Fingers in your mouth? what a bad habit

The pen, the nails or the toy inside your mouth, all of these are not a good idea. Do you realize how this awkward habit, beside you look like a baby, can also get your teeth to shift and make you resemble a beaver or rabbit. Habit is a voluntary or involuntary act performed by a person,repeatedly and compulsively. Habits of sufficient frequency, duration and intensity are associated with various dento-alveolar and skeletal abnormalities. 

Persistent oral habits may result in long term problems hence evaluation of habits has been recommended for children beyond the age of 3 years. By inserting a finger or any object in your mouth and closing your lips all around it, even inside your palate, your teeth and also your lips to take up the shape of these objects with the result that your incisor teeth will tend to stick out of your mouth and your lips will no longer be able to close properly. When you don’t think about it our face takes another appearance and you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror. You have more difficulty eating or chewing your food properly. You begin to talk in a strange manner. This is imperative that you stop this bad habit as of today. This way you will keep you apart from many concerns and you will have the satisfaction of recognizing yourself in the mirror at first glance. Patients who present self-injurious behaviour (SIB) are considered to be a treatment challenge in the dental office, as oral structures play an important role in the process of self injury. Management of oral habits is indicated whenever habits cause damage or there is a reasonable indication that oral habits will have unfavourable squeal in developing permanent dentition.

Treatment modalities include: Behaviour Modification: It helps in the reduction of behaviour through its extinction, punishment and/or satiation. Appliance Therapy Due to deleterious oral habits the reoccurs an imbalance between various soft tissues, exerting abnormal pressure on jaw and causing altered growth of dentofacial complex. Oral habit breaking appliances help in growth of jaws in the right direction.


1) Psychological therapy

 Need only reassurance positive reinforcement and friendly reminders. Children and parents are informed about the problem and long term risks of the habit.During treatment adequate emotional support and concern should be provided to the child by parents. 

2) Reminder therapy

a)Extraoral approaches

It employs hot tasting, bitter flavoured preparations to the digits like Thermoplastic Thumb required to wear for about 6 weeks for elimination of habits. 

b)Intraoral approaches

Removable appliances like palatal cribs, rakes, palatal and lingual spurs, Hawley’s retainers with or without spurs are used. Fixed appliances such as upper lingual tongue screen appear to be effective in breaking these habits.

c)Mechano therapy

This Oral appliance prevents thumb from being inserted and also correct malocclusion by expanding the arch.