If your child is a thumb sucker, you are rightfully concerned about the effect on his or her teeth. Your pediatric dentist may note that this action has the potential to cause oral damage. A thumb guard is one device that can be used to safely help discourage a child from thumb sucking.
There are various types of thumb guards, but all types work by preventing the satisfied feeling the child associates with the comforting action of thumb-sucking.
A soft plastic guard can fit on the hands or mouth to prevent children from sucking their thumbs. A plastic cylinder that sits over your child’s thumb is attached to a childproof wristband and makes it so that the thumb is too large to comfortably place in the mouth.
Another type of guard fits in the child’s mouth; while this guard doesn’t keep the child from putting the thumb in his or her mouth, it prevents the suction associated with the action.
Homemade solutions, which might be equally effective, may include soft gloves or mittens or simply a bandage placed around the thumb.
A thumb sucking guard is not usually recommended unless your child is still sucking his or her thumb after the age of four. In most cases, permanent damage is not done until the permanent teeth grow in, which usually happens between the ages of five and six.
However, children older than age five who are infrequent thumb suckers may not need treatment since the habit is not pervasive enough to affect the teeth and jaw.
Common oral problems caused by thumb sucking include an overbite or underbite or a condition called tongue thrust, which causes a noticeable lisp.
If you notice changes in the way your child’s teeth line up or in the roof of his or her mouth, it’s a sign that the thumb sucking may be affecting the growth and appearance of the oral cavity. These issues are not only cosmetic but can also cause communication issues and medical problems.
If you are concerned about your child’s thumb-sucking habit, contact Ragan Orthodontics today. We can ascertain whether any damage has been caused to the teeth and help develop a treatment plan if necessary, which may include the use of a thumb guard.