Posts for tag: Thumb Sucking


It's no secret that many of Hollywood's brightest stars didn't start out with perfectly aligned, pearly-white teeth. And these days, plenty of celebs are willing to share their stories, showing how dentists help those megawatt smiles shine. In a recent interview with W magazine, Emma Stone, the stunning 28-year-old star of critically-acclaimed films like La La Land and Birdman, explained how orthodontic appliances helped her overcome problems caused by a harmful habit: persistent thumb sucking in childhood.

“I sucked my thumb until I was 11 years old,” she admitted, mischievously adding “It's still so soothing to do it.” Although it may have been comforting, the habit spelled trouble for her bite. “The roof of my mouth is so high-pitched that I had this huge overbite,” she said. “I got this gate when I was in second grade… I had braces, and then they put a gate.”

While her technical terminology isn't quite accurate, Stone is referring to a type of appliance worn in the mouth which dentists call a “tongue crib” or “thumb/finger appliance.” The purpose of these devices is to stop children from engaging in “parafunctional habits” — that is, behaviors like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which are unrelated to the normal function of the mouth and can cause serious bite problems. (Other parafunctional habits include nail biting, pencil chewing and teeth grinding.)

When kids develop the habit of regularly pushing the tongue against the front teeth (tongue thrusting) or sucking on an object placed inside the mouth (thumb sucking), the behavior can cause the front teeth to be pushed out of alignment. When the top teeth move forward, the condition is commonly referred to as an overbite. In some cases a more serious situation called an “open bite” may develop, which can be difficult to correct. Here, the top and bottom front teeth do not meet or overlap when the mouth is closed; instead, a vertical gap is left in between.

Orthodontic appliances are often recommended to stop harmful oral habits from causing further misalignment. Most appliances are designed with a block (or gate) that prevents the tongue or finger from pushing on the teeth; this is what the actress mentioned. Normally, when the appliance is worn for a period of months it can be expected to modify the child's behavior. Once the habit has been broken, other appliances like traditional braces or clear aligners can be used to bring the teeth into better alignment.

But in Stone's case, things didn't go so smoothly. “I'd take the gate down and suck my thumb underneath the mouth appliance,” she admitted, “because I was totally ignoring the rule to not suck your thumb while you're trying to straighten out your teeth.” That rule-breaking ended up costing the aspiring star lots of time: she spent a total of 7 years wearing braces.

Fortunately, things worked out for the best for Emma Stone: She now has a brilliant smile and a stellar career — plus a shiny new Golden Globe award! Does your child have a thumb sucking problem or another harmful oral habit? For more information about how to correct it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”

By The Smile Shack
February 18, 2016
Category: Oral Health

We all know  hopefully we all know!  that opening a bottle of anything with your teeth is not a good idea!

Nevertheless, here are ten more things you or someone you love may be doing that can cause a little or a lot of damage to those pearly whites!

  1. Thumb sucking. Kids who constantly suck their thumbs can be causing the teeth and jaws to misalign, leading to major problems later in life. As for adults who suck their thumbs – well that’s a different story altogether!
  2. Chewing or sucking on lemons. Some people – we’re not sure why!  love the tanginess of lemons so much they suck on them. One thing is for sure: your tooth enamel doesn’t like the highly acidic lemon juice and will corrode with time.
  3. Brushing too hard. It seems to make sense! Scrub your teeth harder and they will get cleaner. But your teeth aren’t a dirty frying pan, and brushing too hard can wear down both your teeth and gums. Use a soft brush with a gentle but thorough technique.
  4. Jaw clenching and tooth grinding. These are signs of stress and are often done unconsciously. But these habits can not only wear down teeth and dental work such as crowns, they can cause pain and chronic problems with the sensitive jaw joint, often called the “TMJ.”
  5. Crunching ice. Think about the special blades your blender needs to crush ice. Get the picture? The hardness of ice plus the extreme cold is a double recipe for disaster to teeth and fillings.
  6. Utilizing the teeth as a human tool box. It may be tempting to tear off a clothing tag, rip open a bag of chips, hold a nail, or many other handy things around the house with your chompers. Don’t! There are proper tools for all of those jobs, and they are not found in your mouth.
  7. Put the pencil down. It’s easy to use your teeth as a pencil holder, eyeglass rest, or pen parker. But doing so habitually can cause your teeth to shift until there is an actual space in there for these objects – a space you probably don’t want!
  8. Biting nails. While a tense movie or close sporting event is often called a “nail-biter,” most people who bite their nails do it constantly. This can lead to small spaces between the teeth and shave off bits of enamel. And if you bite your toenails – congratulations on your flexibility, but it’s just as bad. And kinda gross.
  9. Drinking soda – even “diet.” We won’t go into the HUGE list of reasons not to drink soda right now, but even diet soda bathes your teeth in unhealthy acid and causes corrosion. When you are thirsty there is a reason your body craves water. Listen to it.
  10. Be picky about toothpicking. While properly using a toothpick can be healthy for your teeth and gums, doing it with too much force or aggression can hurt your gum tissue. So just like with brushing, take it easy!

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