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What is an Oral Habit?

Oral habits are repetitive patterns of behaviors involving the oral cavity, including finger/thumb-sucking, soother use, lip sucking, tongue thrusting, nail biting, object biting (e.g. clothing, pencils, hair) and bruxism (teeth grinding/clenching), which can all have significant effects on your health¹.

Many resources say that these habits don't need to be addressed until 5 years of age or later but there is evidence that early intervention can prevent long lasting effects on the size and shape of roof of the mouth (the palate), how the teeth come together (e.g. Will your child develop an open bite, a cross bite and an overjet?) and an inappropriate swallowing pattern (i.e. tongue thrust)² ³.


Many orthodontists and/or dentists will offer to install appliances (e.g. tongue crib/rake, a habit appliance) to stop the finger/thumb from coming into the mouth or to prevent the tongue pushing against the teeth. Unfortunately once these appliances are removed, the child will often go back to the habit as the root cause of the habit hasn't been addressed.


Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) can assess and address the root causes of these habits and support cessation of the habit with behavioral modification programs and positive reinforcement. For more information, contact me, Kaylene French, below.  I am a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist with training in orofacial myofunctional therapy and feeding.

Modified from:



2. Influence of non-orthodontic intervention on digit sucking and consequent anterior open bite: a preliminary study. Boyen Huang, Carla Lejarraga, Christopher S. Franco, Yunlong Kang, Andrew Lee,John Abbott, Katsu Takahashi, Kazuhisa Bessho and Pongthorn Pumtang-on. International Dental Journal. 2015 Oct;65(5):235-41.


3. American Dental Association (ADA). Thumb sucking and pacifier use. The Journal of the American Dental Association. 2007 Aug; 138(8): 1176.



My name is Kaylene French and I run my own private practice with a limited number of hours, in order to deliver quality services to my clients.  I provide assessments and therapy sessions.  Please contact me if you have any questions.

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PO BOX 567
Rossland, BC
V0G 1Y0
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