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Finger-Sucking Devices: How Do They Work?

As the Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health once remarked, “Children are one-third of our population and all of our future.” Thirty years later, the health and wellness of children are as vital as ever. Concerned parents continue to want the best for their children.

In the present day, the main hindrance to children’s healthy growth and development is the persistence of detrimental habits. Some habits are not inherently unhealthful on their own but can become addictive. These repetitive habits can create long-term effects later in life. One of the childhood habits on this list is digit sucking. As a matter of fact, this behavior is the most common oral habit among children today.

Digit sucking refers to finger sucking, which is when a child places their finger into their mouth and forcefully sucks on the digit. Most children can stop this habit on their own. Yet, when the behavior continues after a certain age, prolonged finger sucking can negatively affect growth and development. Fortunately, intervention strategies with innovatively-developed devices can help. Here’s a closer look at finger-sucking devices and how they work.

Finger Sucking: A Habit That Must Be Broken

For many young children and infants, non-nutritive finger sucking is a normal reflex used to self-soothe. This natural behavior creates a sense of comfort and security as a beneficial coping mechanism during infancy and early childhood.

All the while, finger sucking is “a habit that needs to be broken eventually,” as the professionals at the Multidisciplinary Medical Information Network state. If a child does not stop this behavior during the appropriate developmental stage, parents may need to attempt to break the habit with a technique or product. The right approach for your child is essential to prevent adverse effects. Children actively grow, and the constant pressure of a finger in their mouth can change the growth patterns of their jaws and teeth. Teeth or jaw misalignment is a leading concern for frequent or long-standing digit suckers.

The Significance of Oral Health

Discouraging frequent finger-sucking behavior with a habit-breaking device can help children avoid oral health problems down the road. According to the American Dental Association, finger-sucking habits are something to discuss with your child’s pediatric dentist to promote healthy mouth habits. Good oral health is often an overlooked component of children’s overall well-being.

Oral problems that don’t receive early-on treatment and care increase the risk of childhood developmental problems, leaving their health and achievement vulnerable. Good oral habits set the foundation for a healthy mouth and a happy smile for years to come.

Habit-Breaking Products: Effective Solutions

When it comes to finger sucking, parents can come across a wide range of innovative products, devices, and appliances designed to prevent the behavior. As a second line of defense alongside positive reinforcement and other deterrents, these minimally-invasive solutions help your child learn how to stop the detrimental habit.

Before choosing this type of intervention, consider if your child has their own desire to stop. Your child understanding the need for the device and being a willing participant in the process is a vital part of habit-breaking success.

If you’re wondering about the different finger-sucking devices on the market and how they work, know that the techniques available differ in cost, intervention effort, emotional impact, and design. Parents can choose deterrent devices placed directly in the mouth or onto the fingers. As the dental professionals at Colgate advise, the most effective treatment tool depends on your child’s needs and an expert’s recommendation.

Orthodontic and Dental Appliances

A dental professional can prescribe a finger-sucking appliance after an initial consultation, examination, and diagnosis. These fixed or removable dental devices prevent a child from placing their fingers into their mouths in a soothing or comfortable position. Ergo, these devices work by taking the pleasure out of the act of finger sucking. After insertion and consistent wear, the habit will break over time, as a frequent finger sucker will no longer gain enjoyment or immediate feedback.

Habit-breaking appliances placed into the mouth are custom-made for the correct fit on your child’s teeth. A dental professional will determine the best approach or method of attachment and fabricate a specific removable or fixed-type device. After treatment begins, the appliance remains fixed or worn until the sucking habit breaks for good. Depending on the intensity and duration of the habit, this could take several months. Note that out of all the possible finger sucking intervention strategies, the use of these appliances is the most complex and costly.

Finger Guards: Effectively Discouraging the Behavior

Finding the best solution for a finger-sucking habit can be difficult. When basic strategies or prior treatments fail—and you want to avoid a fixed mouth appliance—finger guard devices are practical and valuable solutions. Dental professionals recommend these alternative deterrent devices to stop the sought-out suction that children seek.

A finger guard is a plastic shield or silicon sleeve worn over a child’s fingers and held in place with a comfortable and secure bracelet. The design of these products physically prevents the sucking motion from happening in the first place. Therefore, as Healthline notes from past research studies, childproof finger guards effectively discourage the traditional pleasure-seeking nature of the behavior.

Who Would Best Suit a Finger Guard?

A finger guard is most suited for children who desire to stop the habit. However, children of any age can wear this device for effective treatment. If your child is old enough, open up a discussion about the possibility as a solution. If they are younger, introduce the guard in a positive light, not as a punishment. Also, offer praise or rewards to avoid negative associations.

How and When Should Children Wear a Finger Guard?

With the right finger guard, concerned parents no longer need to wonder about how to break a finger-sucking habit. A finger-sucking device fits over two of your child’s adjacent middle fingers, offering a comfortable and ergonomic fit. This product doesn’t restrict daily activities, and they can wear it at all times. When worn with consistency, past reviews reveal children will stop their habit in as little as a few days or a couple of weeks.

The AeroFinger by TGuard is a professional-recommended, high-rated, and cost-effective solution to rid them of the habit for good. Learn more about the latest version of our successful product on our website.