Oral habits in children cause unbalanced pressures to the immature soft gums. As a result, these dislocate the position of teeth which in turn may become abnormal if these oral habits are continued for a long time. Some of the harmful oral habits that fall under this category are thumb sucking, lip sucking and tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing. Similarly, biting habits like nail biting and lip biting have an adverse effect on the teeth and their supporting structure.

Thumb Sucking habit

The Thumb sucking or finger sucking is an oral habit seems to relax babies, and it’s quite natural. However, thumb sucking is not that harm in babies. But if it persists after the baby teeth have erupted, it can drastically change the growth patterns of the jaw and cause misalignment of the teeth.

Thumb sucking can cause forward placement of upper front teeth, backward of lower teeth, increased overjet, front teeth open bite, narrow upper arch and back teeth crossbite.

Tongue Thrusting habit

Likewise thumb sucking, tongue thrusting is also a normal behaviour pattern observed in young children. Tongue thrusting is a habit of placing the tongue in a wrong position during swallowing. However, it involves pushing the tongue against the upper front teeth while speaking or swallowing. This constant exposure to such pressure leads to misalignment of overall tooth structure.

It can also be caused due to factors of the improper bottle feeding, prolonged thumb sucking, upper respiratory tract infection, constricted dental arches, enlarged adenoids and large size tongue.

Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing is a habit of breathing through the mouth instead of the nose. Usually, breathing is through the nose. But mouth breathing can lead to a decrease in the flow of saliva and it makes teeth more prone to caries. This type of breathing can influence the position of the jaw and tongue, which can lead to malocclusion.

Some of the factors for mouth breaking are developmental anomalies influencing nasal breathing, partial obstructions (due to deviated nasal septum), due to some allergic conditions, abnormal nasal polyps, enlarged adenoids.


Nail-biting is a common habit that is observed amongst children. Likewise biting on pens and pencils, nail-biting represents the anxiety in varying degrees. They are prone to frustration, impatience and dissatisfaction.

Stress, boredom and loneliness are considered as some of the factors of nail bating. Usually, this habit starts as a reaction to a stressful situation. But soon it becomes unconscious in their routine life without letting them realizing it while watching television or reading.

Some of the deleterious effects of these bad oral habits

  • Continuous oral habits can affect the child personality with a tendency to emotional liability.
  • These oral habits can further lead to head rolling, hair pulling, bedwetting etc.
  • The fingers can become deformed and infected.
  • Increased accidental poison and psychological problem.
  • Teeth misalignment like upper teeth becoming flared, lower teeth backwards, no proper contact of upper and lower teeth.
  • Nail-biting can lead to unintentional grinding or clenching of teeth. This, in turn, can cause wearing down of teeth enamel, headaches, facial pain, tooth sensitivity etc.

Habit breaking appliances

Thumb sucking – The persistence of thumb sucking at the age of 3 can alter the growth patterns of jaw and misalignment of teeth. A fixed palatal crib or a rake style appliance is a permanent solution to thumb sucking.

Tongue Thrusting – It can also lead to the causes that are similar to the thumb sucking like problems with tooth alignment and skeletal development. The habit-breaking appliance for tongue thrusting is in the form of crib, rake, spiky style or beaded.

Mouth Breaking – Mouth breathing must be identified and rectified in the earlier stages. The appliance used for treating this habit is oral screen.

Nail Biting – The old-fashioned remedies for nail-biting are applying bitter-tasting products to the nails. Barrier type interventions that block contact between mouth and nails such as gloves, socks, mittens or bite-plate devices can serve as reminders not to bite.

Children usually will develop unhealthy habits. As a result, these habits fade away as they grow up. But the practice persists once after the permanent teeth have erupted, it can drastically affect the jaw and teeth position. However emotional cause can also lead to bad oral habit.

So it’s very important to stop these habits by making the child understand the deleterious effects of prolonging these oral habits. Visit dental clinic near you and a super-specialist pedodontist will help you find the right cause. As a result, suggest you with the best suitable appliance treating the oral habit and prevents further health problems.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist at dental hospital qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment