About Us

A little bit about us …

Can you say OR-O-FA-CIAL MY-OL-O-GIST? That’s right, Orofacial Myologist. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it? (Pun totally intended.) You can call me Carla.

There’s a reason I am so passionate about helping these kids…

My eldest daughter was born a thumb sucker. Cute, right? I assumed she’d stop when she was ready, or we’d help her fix it. Suddenly, years had ticked by, and my daughter continued to suck her thumb. I’d consulted all my dental and speech colleagues and tried every solution I could get my hands on; nothing worked. Her little habit was impacting on our family, our relationship and I felt angry toward her. She felt ashamed and unhappy. I had no idea how to help her stop. I was close to giving up hope.

After much research and training I found a technique that helped my daughter quit her habit. She had already turned 5 when she started this program, and it worked for her on the first day.

But I wasn’t happy to stop there. After more study, further independent research and developing my own thumb and finger sucking programs, I opened Australia’s first clinic of its kind in 2011. My daughter is now a teenager; she never resumed her thumb sucking habit. And in the meantime, I’ve helped hundreds of other children quit their thumb sucking habit, too.

We’re here to help families

Our clinic empowers kids with the right tools and confidence they need to kick their thumb sucking habit.

We empower parents with the right information, take away their worry about their child’s habit, and provide a manageable plan for their child’s growth and development.

Thumb and finger sucking isn’t always just a cute little habit. It can cause issues with jaw and facial development, teeth positioning and function of the muscles. It can impact a child’s posture, the growth of their airways and breathing. It can increase the need for future orthodontic treatment, and exacerbates problems with chewing and feeding behaviours and speech development.

The Team

Carla Lejarraga

Director

Carla Lejarraga is Australia’s leading expert in thumb and finger sucking habits of children.

Led by her own daughter’s plight to stop sucking her thumb, and her subsequent pioneering work and research in Orofacial Myology, Carla opened the first clinic of its kind – The Thumb Sucking Clinic – in 2011. The private clinic located in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, is dedicated to empowering children and their parents with the correct information, the right tools and confidence they need to kick their thumb sucking habits.

In a field often focused on the correction of teeth, Carla and her team holistically embrace their role as health professionals and place an emphasis on prevention. Combining research, facts and science, with the psychology, development and health and wellbeing of every child, each patient benefits from a customised program to combat the long-term effects of thumb and finger sucking. This includes jaw and facial development, teeth positioning and function of the facial muscles, chewing and feeding behaviours, speech development, posture, healthy airway development and future orthodontic treatment. It’s Carla’s unique approach to a common habit that has had immeasurable benefits for families of thumb and finger sucking children.

Carla holds a Bachelor Applied Health Science (Oral Health), is a member of the Dental Hygienist Association Australia, Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association, the International Association of Facial Growth (Orthotropics), and the Australian Association of Orofacial Myology. Carla is a qualified Breathing Educator, having trained with The Buteyko Clinic of Ireland in 2010 in California, and she was the Vice President of the Australia Association of Orofacial Myology Inc from 2012 to 2016.

Her ground-breaking research has been published by the world’s leading dental journal International Journal of Dentistry.

Carla teaches Orofacial Myology practice to dental and speech professionals throughout Australia with The Australian Orofacial Myology Lecture Series. She lectures locally and internationally regarding her work in child facial development and has been featured in various newspapers, magazines, and on ABC radio.

When Carla’s not busy raising her four children, performing in her local theatre company, planning fantastic costume parties with friends and family, or high-fiving her young patients for the amazing results they’ve achieved, you’ll find her planning the expansion of The Thumb Sucking Clinic. It’s her unwavering goal to see every thumb sucking child experience the life-long benefits of her program.

Jane Olsen

Oral Habits Therapist

Our Jane, or 'Miss Jane' as the kids call her, has over 18 years in the dental industry as a Senior Certified Dental Assistant.

Jane is a well known and much admired leader in the auxiliary dental field in North Queensland.

Throughout her career Jane has worked extensively and trained nationally and internationally in the areas of neuromuscular dentistry and full mouth rehabilitation. She has worked as Head DA in various practices as well as conducted extensive team training sessions for dental practices in patient care and team logistics and cohesion.

Jane joined The Thumbsucking Clinic team in 2018 after training in the area of Orofacial Myology, and has had excellent success with patients in the areas of thumb and finger sucking habits. And the kids just love her. See Jane talk about one of her patients here.

As a mother, Jane is excited about the potential of the work of The Thumbsucking Clinic to help kids build confidence in their own achievements and improve their health and wellbeing. See Jane talk about why she loves working at The Thumbsucking Clinic

Jane is a mother of two, one a thumb sucker and in her spare time enjoys running marathons, doing yoga and holidaying with her beautiful family.

MaryFrances Gonzalez

International Courses Coordinator

MaryFrances Gonzalez is a Speech Language Pathologist and Certified Orofacial Myologist (COM®). She is the founder and director of a pediatric private practice, TeachSpeech LLC, which is located just outside Washington DC (USA) in Northern Virginia. She empowers young children during the most critical years of development to combat late talking, speech or language delays. She also treats orofacial myofunctional disorders in both children and adults.

She is the first person to open a Thumb Sucking Clinic in the United States.

MaryFrances is also a member of the The International Association of Orofacial Myology(IAOM) and The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is regularly sought by local media and community organizations thanks to her pursuit of ground-breaking practices, therapies, tools and information that help a child’s communication and confidence thrive.

When not helping families transform their child’s speech and overall health and well-being, you’ll find MaryFrances living life to the fullest with her husband and children, beginning home improvement projects, or curled up with a good book.

Our approach is the only one of its kind in the world.

At the Thumb Sucking Clinic, we take a unique approach to a common habit. We apply exhaustive research, proven facts and science, and combine them with the psychology, development, health and wellbeing of your child, to create a personalised treatment plan to suit their individual needs, no matter their age.

Our hands-on approach is fun and exciting for kids. Not only do we understand why they suck, we talk to them about their habit in a way that no-one else has been able to before. When thumb and digit sucking has an enormous impact on children and families; the benefits of our program are immeasurable.