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Harmful Habits

Harmful habits such as thumb or finger sucking habits, chronic mouth breathing and tongue thrusting have a deleterious effect of facial growth and tooth positioning.

Facial growth is influenced by the combination of genetics and environmental forces. Harmful habits have different degrees of effect based upon one's inherent skeletal pattern and the habit. In other words, we are not the same! The effect of harmful habits may have a large influence for some and a small influence for others. Thumb sucking, mouth breathing, and tongue thrusting create harmful forces. These forces can change facial appearance and misdirect the eruption and position of your teeth. The amount of change that these forces create depends on a number of factors:

  • frequency of forces
  • duration of forces
  • intensity of forces
  • direction of forces
  • the patient's inherited genetic facial growth pattern

There are many orthodontic signs of these conditions and early recognition is important. In general, the sooner these conditions can be eliminated, the more normal a child's facial development. Pediatric physicians, pediatric dentists and general dentists should be advised about a child's habits. An orthodontist should become involved with the eruption of the permanent incisors and permanent molars.