Fig.1 Fig.2
Fig.3 Fig.4
Fig.5 Fig.6

Dental Education Lecture: Finger Sucking

Finger sucking is a bad habit(Fig.1). It can cause shifting of our teeth (Fig.2). It is difficult to fix. It should be corrected as early as possible.

The doctors in University of Kentucky designed a special device (Blue Grass Appliance) to fix the problem.  It looks like a wheel (Fig.3 in model and Fig.4 in the mouth).

Surprisingly, it is very effective.  The kid does not suck the finger subconsciously after wearing itIn fact the dentist cements the device in the mouth.  If the problem has been fixed for several months, we may consider removing the deviceIf the old habit returns after removal of the device, we can put it back. 

This kid is not co-operative.  She takes out the corrective device herself, because she complains that the device makes it difficult for her to talk and eat.  As expected, her teeth have become more crooked (Fig.5 as compared to Fig.2 (1.5 years earlier)). It appears that finger sucking prevents the upper adult front teeth (U1,U2) to come down to meet the lower front teeth (L). The other upper front tooth (U3) is twisted.

One year later when she is 9 years old, the gap between top and bottom front teeth appears to be bigger (Fig.6).

In brief, bad oral habit such as finger sucking is harmful to our developing teeth.

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 03/13/2009, last revision 09/04/2014