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Oral Habits of Compulsion
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Oral Habits of Compulsion
Oral habits of compulsion are repeated movements involving the mouth. The movements are caused by: lip biting, lip licking, lip sucking, tongue thrusting and thumb of finger sucking. The repeated forces caused by these habits move teeth and bone.

When there is a compulsion, it is derived from the comfort of sucking the thumb, lip, or movement from which the child derives satisfaction. Tongue thrusting is the most insidious problem as it is difficult to observe, but lip biters move top teeth out and forward as do tongue thrusters. All these habits are abnormal and destructive to the teeth and face.

Here is a 6-step plan to bust a nervous habit or a tic.

  1. Identify the times, situations and your emotional state when you perform the behavior or are about the perform it. Habits become automatic. Conscious awareness is critical. When you can anticipate that you are about to perform your habitual behavior before you actually do, you are likely to be more effective in stopping it.

  2. Identify and incompatible behavior that you can perform to interrupt or preempt the problem behavior.

  3. Identify one or more compelling reasons and/or rewards that motivate you to quit the habit.

  4. Imaging being in the situation that triggers the habit. Rehearse the competing behavior in your mind. It is called "mental practice." Using mental practice increases your chances of success.

  5. designate someone to prompt you to perform the competing behavior when you slip into the old habit.

  6. Praise, social support and material rewards should follow successful attempts.
Here are a few more tips:
  1. With such habits as nail biting, hair pulling or skin picking, involving the hands, do something with those hands. Hold a pencil, make a fist, sit on your hands or put them in your pockets for 1 to 3 minutes.

  2. For an oral habit such as the lip biting, keep the bottom and lower teeth lightly apart.

  3. in case of motor tics, keep the affected body part tense and keep it still. Thus, for side-to-side head shaking or for neck turning and twisting, make the neck muscles tense while holding the chin down. Parents can utilize these tips to help their children break unwanted habits. However, do it in a way that allows your child to become an active and willing participant in the program.