Online Dental Education Library

Dr. Goldman and his staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions, please contact us.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are unique among dentists in that they all have completed an additional four years of hospital-based training alongside medical residents, and can administer all types of anesthesia. If you have a diseased or impacted tooth that needs to come out, implants to be placed, a suspicious lesion that needs a biopsy, or any other oral health condition requiring surgical diagnosis or treatment, we can help. Learn more about Oral Surgery.

Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Chronic loud snoring is a common symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the upper airway is blocked to the point of causing significant airflow disruption, or even no airflow whatsoever for 10 seconds or more. This can be a dangerous situation. Learn more about Snoring & Sleep Apnea.

Tooth Extractions

There are times when it is in your best interest to have a tooth extracted (removed). This could be the case for a variety of reasons, including: damage or trauma to the tooth; an impacted wisdom tooth that may cause trouble for you later on; or overcrowding. Learn more about Tooth Extractions.

Implant Dentistry

Dental Implant Video

If you are missing one or more teeth, dental implants offer the comfort and security of a permanent replacement that looks and functions just like your natural teeth. Dental implants also help preserve the tooth-supporting bone in your jaw that deteriorates when even one tooth is lost.

Oral Diagnosis & Biopsies

When it comes to detecting certain oral or systemic (whole-body) diseases, a thorough dental exam may be your first line of defense. Learn more about Oral Diagnosis & Biopsies.

Bone Grafting

Bone grafting, a minor in-office surgical procedure, is commonly used in dentistry to correct deficiencies in bone quality and to build support for teeth or dental implants. Learn more about Bone Grafting.

Sedation Dentistry & Anesthesia

We want you to have the most comfortable dental treatment experience possible. That's why we offer sedation, to help you relax, and/or anesthesia, to block your sensations of pain. Learn more about Sedation Dentistry.

Facial Trauma & Reconstructive Surgery

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are capable of treating the full scope of injuries to the structures of the face, mouth or jaws — including the teeth, the bones of the jaws and face, and the tissue of the skin and gums. We can also treat congenital defects such as cleft palate.

TMJ Disorders

If you have chronic pain in or around your jaw, or find the movement of your jaw is restricted, you may be suffering from a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Learn more about TMJ Disorders.

Treating Dental Emergencies

We can treat a variety of traumatic dental injuries, including teeth that have been moved or knocked out entirely. Please call our office for assistance, or click here to learn more about what to do in a dental emergency.

Child sucking thumb.

Is there any image that illustrates the comforts of babyhood better than a sleepy infant sucking his or her thumb? Ultrasound pictures have shown, to the joy of many prospective parents, that this behavior can even occur in the womb. The thumb- or finger-sucking habit seems to relax and comfort toddlers too, and it's perfectly natural. But as a child grows, there comes a point where this habit isn't just socially awkward — it may also be harmful to his or her oral health.

In most children, thumb sucking stops on its own between the ages of two and four years. But if the practice persists after the primary (baby) teeth have erupted, it can drastically change the growth patterns of the jaw, and cause significant misalignment of the teeth. It may be hard to believe that such a benign habit can actually move teeth and bone — but there are a number of reasons why this occurs.

Children's jaws, rich in blood supply and growing rapidly, are relatively soft and flexible — especially in kids under the age of 8. So it really isn't hard for the constant pressure of a thumb or finger to deform the soft bone around the upper and lower front teeth. Children who are particularly vigorous thumb suckers are even more likely to change the growth patterns of the teeth and jaws.

If the thumb sucking habit persists, it can result in the upper front teeth flaring out and the lower ones moving back and inward. It can also hold back the growth of the lower jaw, while causing the upper jaw to be thrust forward. This can result in misalignment of the teeth, an anterior open bite (where the front teeth fail to close together), collapse of the upper jaw causing crossbite, or other problems. That's why it is important to stop the behavior at an appropriate time, before damage occurs.

Controlling Thumb or Finger Sucking

Like many potentially harmful behavior patterns, thumb sucking can be a difficult habit to break. Through the years, parents have tried a variety of home remedies, such as having the child wear gloves, coating the digits with a bitter-tasting substance — and even reasoning with their toddlers. Sometimes it works — but in other cases, the allure of thumb sucking proves very difficult to control.

Fixed palatal crib.

If your child has a thumb or finger sucking habit that has persisted past the age of 3, and you've been unable to tame it, then it may be time for you to visit the dental office for a consultation. A “habit appliance” such as a fixed palatal crib or a removable device may be recommended for your child. This crib isn't for sleeping — it's a small metal appliance worn inside the mouth, attached to the upper teeth.

How does it work? The semicircular wires of a palatal crib keep the thumb or finger from touching the gums behind the front teeth. Simply preventing this contact seems to take all the enjoyment away from the thumb sucking habit — and without that pleasurable feedback, a child has no reason to continue the behavior. In fact, the device is often successful the first day it's worn.

Getting and Using a Habit Appliance

If your child could benefit from a habit appliance, the first step is to get a thorough examination, which may include taking x-rays, photographs and dental impressions. If it's recommended, a crib will then be custom-fabricated to fit your child's mouth, and placed at a subsequent appointment. Afterwards, your child will be periodically monitored until the appliance is removed — typically, a period of months.

Although wearing the crib isn't painful, your child may experience some soreness in the upper back teeth for a few hours after it's first installed. He or she may also have a little trouble falling asleep for a day or two afterward. Plenty of extra attention and TLC are usually all that's needed to make everything all right. While the appliance is being worn, it's best to avoid chewing gum and eating hard, sticky food that might cause it to come loose.

A Word About Tongue Thrusting

Like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting is a normal behavioral pattern in young children. It's actually part of the natural infantile swallowing pattern, which will normally change on its own — by the age of six, in most children. If the pattern doesn't change, however, it can lead to problems similar to those caused by thumb sucking: namely, problems with tooth alignment and skeletal development. Fortunately, this problem can be successfully treated with a habit appliance that's very similar to a fixed palatal crib.

Related Articles

Thumb Sucking - Dear Doctor Magazine

How Thumb Sucking Affects The Bite Thumb sucking can actually block the front teeth from erupting fully and can also push the teeth forward — sometimes more on the side where the thumb rested. How far out of position the teeth end up will depend on the number of hours per day the thumb was in the child's mouth and how much pressure was applied. When the pressure exerted by the thumb in the mouth is particularly strong and occurs over a long period of time, the forces can potentially influence growth of the jaws... Read Article


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