by Dr Derek Mahony, Full Face Orthodontics, Randwick, NSW
Thumbguard is a product that discourages children from the comfort of sucking their thumb. It’s important to stop this habit in growing children as it will eventually cause major problems with their bite.
What’s good about it
Thumbguard is simply placed over the thumb or the finger that the child is putting in their mouth. It’s made of a silicon material so they can still write, wash their hands, and carry on with everyday life. When they put their thumb or finger in the mouth, it breaks the vacuum so the kids don’t enjoy doing it anymore.
It’s easy to use, non-invasive, non-threatening for the child, and the cost is fairly economical. Most kids break the habit in four weeks or less.
Thumbguard should be used with children from age three onwards. A child that stops sucking their thumb of their own accord before age three will generally have spontaneous correction to their bite. After age three it becomes a real problem.
If they are still sucking their thumb by age six or seven, the damage has already been done to the bite. Then more traditional orthodontic therapy will be needed.
What’s not so good
Thumbguard is attached like a hospital bracelet—the only way it can be taken off is cutting it with scissors. If you get a child who’s adamant not to comply, they can cut it off themselves. Out of the roughly one thousand I’ve fitted, about 10 kids have cut it off themselves. That’s the only situation where it doesn’t work. When worn correctly, it has a 100 per cent success rate.
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