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How your child’s thumb sucking habit could end up costly

Children go through phases where they feel safe and comfortable while doing certain habits, such as sucking on their thumb or a pacifier.

During the early years and usually lasting up until about four years old, it’s completely normal for a child to want to suck on or chew stuff.

However, fast forwards to the age of five. At this time, thumb sucking or other habits involving the mouth can alter the growth of the jaws and cause misalignments and bite issues.

The issues caused will require orthodontic help to fix, and it will be costly.

At iSmile Orthodontics, we recommended helping your child overcome their unhealthy dental habits, before it impacts their oral health.

How thumb sucking impacts a child’s dental health

Children who continue to actively sucking on their thumb past four are at higher risk of developing long-lasting misalignments of the teeth and impacts to jaw growth.

Active thumb sucking places repetitive pressure on the teeth, roof of the mouth jaw, which in effect alters how they grow.

Orthodontic issues caused by thumb sucking

  • Overbite – Upper jaw overlaps the lower jaw.
  • Open bite – Front top and bottom teeth do not connect when the mouth is closed.
  • Front lower teeth dip inwards.
  • Speech impediment – Since thumb sucking alters the growth of the teeth and jaw, it changes speech development. It may cause lips, and cause speech issues making it difficult to pronounce certain letters.

If you want to help avoid the risk of these orthodontic or speech issues, it’s important to help your child to stop this unhealthy habit as they begin reaching the age of four.

Ways to stop your child sucking their thumb or objects

Most children will naturally stop sucking their thumb between the ages of two to four years old. 

It’s important to give your child the chance to naturally stop, however if they appear to continue the habit heading towards four or after four, you will need to intervene.

Great options to help your child stop, include:

  • Encouragement – Show encouragement as your child tries to listen to you and stop. Things like hugs can be a great encouragement.
  • Reminders – Place a bandage or glove over your child’s hand or finger to act as a reminder that they have to stop sucking their thumb.
  • Distractions – When your child goes to suck on their thumb, try to entertain them to distract them away from doing it.
  • Rewards Rewarding your child with a special outing or toy are great ways to show progress and stop them from sucking their thumb for a period of time. Try beginning with one day, and making it all the way up to 30 days.

If it appears your child has stopped sucking on their thumb, please do not assume it is gone as children can easily drift back into habits. Make sure you continue your at-home treatments to deter thumb sucking even long after it’s gone.

What if I cannot stop my child, where should I seek help?

If you cannot seem to stop your child from sucking on their thumb, then it’s important to see a professional.

By visiting an orthodontist, dentist or another child health professional, you will be provided with great tips and ideas to help stop your child from their bad habits.

At iSmile Orthodontics in Melbourne our experienced team love helping young smiles grow up into healthy adult smiles. We believe child dental health is important and everything should be done to prevent orthodontic issues from occurring.

If you would like to find out more information on orthodontic issues and treatment, or would like to book in for an appointment, then kindly click here.

Is orthodontics only for aesthetics?

For most patients who do not suffer from any dental health issues, the reason behind straightening their smile is solely for aesthetic purposes. 

Some people tend to feel uncomfortable when their smile is not straight due to crooked, overlapped or gapped teeth.

A major issue in today’s society is that first impressions matter the most, and many people are quick to judge one another on looks, whether we like it or not.

So many patients choose to straighten their teeth to gain their desired smile, to improve their self-image or their appearance from other people.

However, getting orthodontic help has major health benefits alongside cosmetic benefits.

Health benefits of straighter teeth

There are a number of health benefits associated with straightening your teeth, including the following:

Easier to clean

When your teeth are straight, they are much easier to keep clean. There are no crooked or crowded teeth to make flossing a nightmare and brushing harder. 

Since both flossing and brushing are easier, there are less chances of food particles becoming trapped and causing plaque and tooth erosion.

Chewing is easier

Crooked and misaligned teeth are more inefficient at chewing foods, as there is less surface area. Teeth that are not straight also place stress on the jaw, which can cause discomfort and pain in some cases.

Did you also know that the better you chew your food, the easier it is for your body to digest the food and the more nutrients you receive?

Reduced tooth wear

When your teeth are straight, there is reduced stress placed on them while eating and chewing.

Teeth that are misaligned, uneven or crooked tend to wear down quicker than straight teeth.

Reduced chances of chips and breaks

Teeth that are not straight are more likely to become damaged during an accident. Since straight teeth are easier to keep clean, they are also less prone to chips and cracks.

Improved speech

Your teeth play an important role in your speech, which means that gapped, crowded, protruding and misaligned teeth can negatively affect your speech.

Many people wouldn’t think about this, but after you achieve straighter teeth, you will also notice speech improvements.

Better overall health

Since straighter teeth are easier to clean, your chances of developing gum disease or cavities are reduced. This actually improves your overall health, as gum disease and plaque are known contributors of diabetes, heart disease and other health issues.

Straighter teeth with iSmile Orthodontics

If you are looking for orthodontic treatment, please contact the experienced team at iSmile Orthodontics.

We offer traditional metal braces, Invisalign clear aligners, clear braces and more.

For more information or to book in for an appointment, please click here.

COVID-19 sucks!

We would like to thank our good friend Dr Dan Bills at Innovative Orthodontics in New Jersey, USA for allowing us to share this great content from his blog –


Let us start by thanking everyone who sent well wishes to us and the team these last few days during this uncertain time.  It is much appreciated to know you care about us as much as we care about you!
Due to these unprecedented and rapidly changing circumstances, we know you might have some questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it may affect your orthodontic care. Our team has put together this FAQ to help you gain some amount of clarity in this part of your life. We are here to support you and will continue to find new ways to provide you with the highest quality orthodontic care.


Due to nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sweeping recommendations of numerous health and government officials including the Australian Dental Association, we have closed our physical offices for the time being to all non-essential procedures for the safety of our community.  Our physical offices may be closed, but our practice is still very much open! We are available by phone, text, virtual appointments, and FaceTime if necessary to keep your Orthodontic treatment moving!


At this stage, our physical offices are currently scheduled to reopen on April 15th. We are frequently assessing the situation and will be very transparent with next steps if that changes. Our team will be available to assist patients by phone, email, text, virtual checkups, and even FaceTime if needed . To help keep our outgoing lines open for our team to handle patient concerns, we ask that you send us an email at for the fastest response. 


We are happy to report that your orthodontic treatment is still active and your tooth movement is progressing during this time. Because of the technology in the braces, wires, and aligners we use, we routinely extend intervals between appointments 10-12 weeks (and in rare instances 16 weeks) normally, so this “forced” postponement is just doing what we would do anyway.  In fact, many times we schedule interim checks and adjustments with you for our own peace of mind, to relieve any wire discomfort you may be having, or just to have a chance to talk with you 🙂


Please make sure you keep good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing three times a day. Also remember, DO NOT eat forbidden foods to avoid any breakage. If wearing any elastic, continue to do so as directed. Your braces will continue to straighten your teeth all day and night. Proper elastic wear will continue to correct your bite. We will be able to advance your treatment once we reopen.


Please make sure to keep wearing your active aligners as instructed to continue progressing your treatment. Make sure to use your chewies and bite and hold to seat the aligners in areas where you may see visible space between your tooth and the aligner. For best use, bite into your chewie for 10 seconds and work it around your teeth lightly biting holding for a 10-minute session.
If you no longer have aligners to continue to your next week, it is perfectly fine to reduce your last aligner wear to nighttime only wear to ensure that your teeth stay in position and make your aligner last longer. Keep your aligners clean and avoid all drinks other than water while wearing them. When our office reopens, we will make a new digital scan for new aligners.
If you are currently in “passive” aligners between phases and are awaiting your new trays, please switch to wearing your passive aligners only at night and switch only if one breaks or starts to get gross!
Always remember to wash your hands before placing and removing your aligners or elastics.


We are excited for all our patients to take this big step, and look forward to seeing your new smile when it is finished. We are hopeful that this schedule alteration will be short. When this situation has stabilised, we are going be ready for you!


Although dental care is very safe for patients and providers with standard universal precautions and hospital level sterilisation protocols, cleaning teeth and the removal of orthodontic bonding materials produces aerosols that can possibly contain biological material. A deferral of removing braces is a good practice at a time like this. Always brush and floss thoroughly to maintain your dental health as we await the passing of this situation. We will resume removal of braces when we are advised that it is safe to do so.  We realize that this is a major inconvenience for those of you who are excited to get your braces off and see your new smile, and we thank you in advance for understanding that this is simply out of our control — like many things in our lives at this time.


If you are a candidate to have these types of appointments done virtually, one of our team members will discuss this with you. For those of you who would still prefer do have these done in person, we will maintain all appointment records within our computer system, and will reschedule these appointments appropriately when the community situation returns to normal.


It is important to continue wearing your aligners and your rubber bands to maintain your treatment progress, or your treatment result if currently wearing retainers. Follow recommendations by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after removing or placing your aligners, retainers, or elastics. These items can also be washed or cleaned in a diluted soap and water solution. An old toothbrush is ideal for this purpose. After cleaning the appliance, rinse thoroughly in cold water to minimise the soapy taste, just like when doing the dishes.


It is always important to wear your retainers after your treatment is complete. Call the office and leave us a voice mail or write us a email, someone will be contact you to see how we can proceed.


Not at this time. Our physical offices will open on April 15th; however, until then our office is very much open virtually.  We are always here to help keep your treatment moving and to help in any way we can!


Call us! We will instruct you on the best resolution to the problem. We will try to help you with an easy fix at home. In the event of a true emergency situation involving severe pain or discomfort, this could involve a quick trip to the office for a fix in a private setting where you would be the only patient in the office.
We will continue to email any updates we have, but also follow us on Facebook at for the most up to date information. 
Again, a big thank you to Dr Dan Bills at Innovative Orthodontics in New Jersey, USA for allowing us to share this great content from his blog –
Be Kind, Stay Safe.
With thanks and love from,
Dr Ramya Thiyagarajan & the iSmile Orthodontics Team

What is the purpose of retainers after braces?

Wearing braces or clear aligners may create a beautiful smile, but it doesn’t retain the smile post treatment!

Once your treatment is finished, your teeth want to return to their original positions, as teeth are always adapting and moving.

Which is where retainers come in! Retainers are designed to retain your new smile and stop teeth returning to their original positions.

After having your braces removed, this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but retainers are important.

Your teeth need time to adjust into their new positions and become comfortable in the soft tissue and jawbone where they now sit.

Your retainer will be custom made from impressions taken of your newly straightened teeth and made from wire and acrylic material.

Are retainers necessary after braces?

At iSmile Orthodontics we say retainers are absolutely necessary after your treatment, as retainers play a vital role in maintaining your results.

You don’t want your teeth to return to the original positions, as it would mean the time, costs and stress of having braces would have all been wasted.

You can help to ensure your great results are maintained by wearing the retainer provided.

There are many stories of patients receiving braces treatment a second time! Why? Because they did not wear their braces as instructed by the orthodontist, resulting in their teeth shifting and returning to original positions.

Don’t take any chances, wear your retainers and maintain that straight smile!

Types of retainers

There are two variants of retainers: removable or fixed.

Removable retainers can be easily taken out for eating and cleaning your mouth and should be worn full-time for at least one year after braces are removed. However, your orthodontist will provide you a length of time, as every patient is different. Once your new smile is set in place and it’s safe not to wear your retainer full-time, you should still continue to wear it overnight, and indefinitely in many cases.

Fixed retainers are cemented to the back of your teeth and will usually be kept in for several years, if not decades.

Fixed retainers:

These retainers, also known as bonded retainers, are typically a thin stainless-steel wire that is cemented to the back of your teeth to maintain your new smile. The wire is not visible and may feel a bit odd for a little while, but we can ensure you will probably forget it’s even there after a while.

Hawley retainers:

The most common retainer, the Hawley retainer is removable. It should be removed for cleaning, eating and can be removed for special events and photos!

This retainer is made from metal wires and plastic. The metal wires fit against the six front teeth and have loops near the canines to allow for minor adjustments as your teeth settle into place!

However, due to this retainer being made from plastic it can become distorted or warp from heat or impact damage, so please handle with care.

Essix retainers:

The Essix retainer, also known as an invisible retainer, is a clear plastic device that fits over your teeth to keep them straight.

It is important to follow the advice of your orthodontist about how to wear and clean your retainer. It is not only about wearing your retainer, but also about maintaining great oral hygiene, which includes brushing twice, flossing and rinsing your mouth daily.

Permanent retainers require cleaning carefully to remove trapped bacteria, debris and plaque. While removable retainers should be removed and carefully cleaned.

iSmile recommends following your orthodontist’s advice about how to wear and clean your retainer, as it varies depending on the type of retainer.

How to clean and take care of your retainers

In general, you must handle your retainers with care and use the following techniques to clean:

Hawley / Clear Plastic Retainer:

  • Remove retainer from mouth and clean while it’s still wet, before debris hardens.
  • Use lukewarm water to rinse your retainer (after every meal if possible).
  • Mixing lukewarm water and a mild soap together on a soft toothbrush or denture brush is suggested for deeper cleaning of a retainer.
  • Make sure to rinse your retainer again and give your teeth a clean before reinserting your retainer.
  • Soaking your retainer once a week in an anti-bacterial denture solution helps keep it fresh by killing harmful bacteria.

If any debris is hardened and will not come off, make sure to bring your retainer to your orthodontist as they will be able to help. DO NOT try hard scrubbing, hot water or abrasive solutions.

When you have removed your retainer, make sure to place it inside the protective plastic case, to prevent damages or losing it.

Fixed retainer:

Brushing your teeth is not difficult, but flossing will take more effort.

To floss, you should take a 6-inch piece of floss and use a floss threader to thread the floss under your retainer wire between your lower front teeth.

Once the floss is under your retainer wire, move it up and down between the teeth, all the way to the gum line and gently below the gum line if possible.

Slide the floss sideways to make sure you remove trapped debris and plaque.

Repeat this process for each tooth attached to the retainer.

At iSmile Orthodontics, our team works to make sure all our patients feel comfortable and understand every step of their treatment process. Our number one priority is your smile and happiness.

If you have any questions, regarding your retainers or orthodontic treatment, please ask our experienced team as we are happy to provide answers. For more information or to book in for an appointment, please contact us here!

Children’s orthodontic issues

Would you like to know if your child is suffering from any abnormalities in their mouth?

The best way to find out is to bring your child to an orthodontist at age seven for a check-up. This will allow the orthodontist to discover any issues regarding your child’s teeth, jaw or facial irregularities.

Avoiding visiting an orthodontist because you think your child has no issues is not recommended, as some issues are not always immediately apparent. Further, the orthodontist can check out for issues relating to your child’s permanent teeth (adult teeth).

We will discuss all the most common orthodontic issues which children suffer from.

Common orthodontic issues for children


Crowding means there is not enough room for teeth to fit normally along your child’s jaw. This can be the result of a displaced or small jaw, dental trauma or irregular teeth sizes.

Crowded teeth can prevent good oral hygiene, and treatment such as partial braces can help bring teeth into place.

Abnormal Eruptions

Abnormal eruptions happen when a tooth begins emerging through the gum but is located in the wrong spot. Teeth which do not grow fully through or erupt abnormally can be extracted to prevent issues later on.

Too much space

Happens when either the teeth are too small relative to the jaw; or when teeth don’t grow at all or are lost too early.


The top teeth do not line up correctly and are positioned slightly behind the bottom teeth when the jaw closes, causing problems chewing and eating. Partial braces or rapid palatal expanders can be used to help treat crossbites in children.


Result of the lower teeth extending out further than the upper teeth, creating an underbite. Common causes are undergrowth of the upper jawbone, or overgrowth of the lower jawbone. The earlier this issue is diagnosed, the chances of simple intervention methods which help avoid chances of requiring jaw surgery to fix the underbite.


Result of the upper teeth extending way down past the lower teeth, basically completely covering them while the jaw is closed. This issue is referred to as a “deep bite” and can cause dental wear and discomfort. Overbites can also cause the lower teeth to bite the roof of the mouth causing discomfort.

Open bite

Open bites are caused when the front teeth do not close at all, while the back teeth are touching. This issue is caused by simple things such as thumb and pacifier sucking, tongue thrusting and jaw issues.

Increased Overjet

A type of overbite, but this time it’s caused by the front teeth being ahead of the lower teeth. Causes a horizontal gap between the front teeth. Increased overjet’s increase the chances of suffering tooth fractures.

It’s best to visit an orthodontist if you think your child is suffering any dental malocclusion’s and to follow the orthodontist’s advice on what treatments are recommended. Having your child’s dental issues treated earlier, reduces the chances of complex issues during their teen and adult life.

At iSmile Orthodontics located in Victoria, precisely in Bundoora, Mernda, and Caroline Springs; our team is passionate about helping all patients achieve their best dental hygiene. If you would like to know more about children’s orthodontics, or another orthodontic issue, or to book an appointment at iSmile Orthodontics, please click here.

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