Self-soothing with a thumb is normal and natural in babies, but when they don't lose the habit as they grow up, thumb-sucking can cause changes to the shape of the mouth and teeth that are difficult to fix. A thumb-sucking guard helps prevent a child from putting a thumb in his or her mouth because it inhibits the satisfying feeling associated with it. Pediatric dentists and pediatricians can discuss a range of devices available and choose the best one for your child.

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Thumb-Sucking Guards

A few types of soft plastic guards can fit on the hands or mouth to prevent children from sucking their thumbs.

A device called an aversion therapy splint is a plastic cylinder that sits over your child's thumb. The cylinder is attached to a childproof wristband and is too large to fit comfortably in the child's mouth. Pediatric dentists may also recommend a guard that sits in your child's mouth while he indulges in the habit, holding the thumb away from the roof of the mouth so that the child can't achieve suction

Consider asking your pediatrician or pediatric dentist if your child requires thumb-sucking guards if habits do not go after the fourth birthday. Dental problems often correcting themselves, as long as children stop sucking habits of their mothers before their permanent teeth emerge, according to URMC. Those under the age of four are not in need of treatment for thumb-sucking, said UCPC, but if that habit continues after the age of five can cause real damage. However, if a child age five and older are rare thumb-suckers and no visible damage, no treatment is necessary.