Habit Appliance

What is a habit appliance?

A thumb or finger habit appliance is a metal gate that is placed behind the upper front teeth. It is cemented into the mouth, and attached to braces on the two upper molars.

This appliance is needed when a thumb- or finger-sucking habit is pushing the upper and lower teeth apart, and causing an open bite or protrusion of the upper front teeth. A habit appliance can be worn by itself or added to a full set of braces. The appliance remains in the mouth for three to six months.

What can be expected?

With most children, the thumb or finger habit will stop within the first few days. More severe habits can take several months. When we are confident that the habit is completely gone, the appliance will be removed.

You may notice an improvement in the alignment of the upper front teeth after the thumb- or finger-sucking habit has stopped.

Helpful Hints

Children adapt very quickly to the habit appliance. During the first few days, speech may be affected and some soreness of the tongue may be present. We recommend Peroxyl rinse and a soft diet. Tylenol or Advil may be used, if needed. Please stay away from gum and other sticky foods that may loosen the appliance.


Extra time and effort will be needed to keep the appliance clean. Thorough instructions and a goodie bag with special brushes will be provided on the day the appliance is placed.


You are on your way to a healthy bite and a beautiful smile!

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