Why do children suck their thumbs or fingers? How can ThumbGuard solve problems such as hair pulling, lash pulling, or nose scratching?


    Thumb sucking at an early age is considered to be a completely normal and natural activity among children, which stems from a very strong sucking reflex that is vital for childrens' survival. While infants are sucking, which is done as a means to receive nutrition, they experience pleasurable oral sensations, some of which become associated with the fulfillment from food, closeness, and tenderness. In most cases, as the child matures, they may find alternative means of receiving the same forms of positive physical and emotional fulfillment.

   However, some children look for a way to continue the once necessary and pleasantly soothing experience of nutritional sucking (either breast feeding or sucking from the bottle), thus forming the thumb (or finger) sucking habit. This habit, if not eliminated by a certain age, may become detrimental to a child's physical, emotional and social development. Several scientific studies and guidelines from a major dental institution indicate that children should quit the habit between the ages of three and four, as opposed to the "rule of thumb" approach used by some pediatric dentists; stating that the habit should be eliminated before the arrival of permanent teeth (ages five to six).[1] & [3]

What Kind of Damage may occur from excessive thumb sucking?

   Vigorous thumb sucking may profoundly alter the development of the mouth and the positioning of the teeth in the upper and lower jaws. As a result, the roof of the mouth is pushed upward and narrows, which leads to the development of a cross bite. Improper positioning of the front teeth and tongue can often lead to speech impediments (the inability to pronounce certain sounds). Rather expensive orthodontic work, involving lots of time, effort, and unpleasant dental procedures, would be required to correct these problems (if the habit is not eliminated at the right time).

   Mentioned here are other problems associated with thumb or finger sucking:
            • an increased risk of communicable childhood diseases, as a result             of constantly putting a dirty thumb in the mouth;
            • a possibility of slowing down child's social development because             children who suck their thumbs (fingers) are perceived by their peers             as being immature, and in many instances, either not accepted by the             group as an  equal or subject to ridicule by their peers.[2]

   Often children may find that thumbsucking and it's stress-relieving ability is a way to withdraw from unpleasant situations, such as competitive encounters with other children. On the other hand, there are many children who resort to thumb or finger sucking when in a stress-free environment, as a means to relax themselves.

   It's important to remember that if thumb sucking is extinguished at an early age, many of the problems listed above may naturally fix themselves, including the shape of the jaws and positioning of the teeth. Studies suggest that "natural correction of malocclusion caused by thumb and finger sucking is related not only to the degree of malocclusion, but also to lip and tongue function as well as that of other perioral musculature."[1]

What other habits can be treated by ThumbGuard?

In addition to effectively terminating the thumb and finger sucking habits, ThumbGuard™ and FingerGuard™ have been shown to cease additional harmful habits such as hair pulling, eyelash pulling and nose scratching, which are often associated with and practiced along with the main habit of thumb/finger sucking. The connection between these associated habits is very strong, and, according to the parents of children who have experienced this combination of habits, neither of the secondary habits relapse or manifest themselves once the primary habit of thumb or finger sucking has ceased.  Thus, by wearing this device, many parents have noticed the disappearance of hair pulling, eyelash pulling, and nose scratching once the treatment is completed.

For parents of children with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and other number of conditions where the child is prone to involuntarily bite their thumbs or fingers, ThumbGuard™ and FingerGuard™ has been shown to be a successful protective  device to help prevent injuries to  the affected areas. 

1. "Damage to the primary dentition resulting from thumb and finger (digit) sucking", Journal of Dentistry for Children. Nov-Dec 1996.
2. "Influence of thumb sucking on peer social acceptance in first-grade children", Pediatrics. April, 1994.
3. American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. "Thumbsucking - stop it early." Feb. 1, 1999.
(Available upon request.)
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