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Dental Profession

The Role of Thumb Guards in Maintaining Oral Care for Children

Explore the crucial role of thumb guards in maintaining oral care for children. Discover how they help promote dental health and prevent oral issues.

Thumb guards are essential in children’s oral care as they prevent thumb sucking, a habit that can lead to dental misalignment and other oral health issues.


Good oral health for children is vital. It really is as simple as that. To ensure strong, healthy teeth in adulthood, it is important to have good dental health as a child. By preventing dental issues in kids, teeth can develop correctly, and long-term problems can be avoided.

Not only is it important to build good oral hygiene practices to ensure healthy teeth, but good dental care routines also help maintain overall health – and they save money in the long-run.

One often forgotten, but incredibly useful tool, for paediatric oral health is a thumb guard.

What do thumb guards have to do with teeth, you may ask? Why is something you put on your thumb considered a dental care product?

Read on, and all will be revealed!

Thumb and finger sucking habit?

Help your child prevent the problems that prolonged and aggressive thumb and finger sucking can cause Buy Now

Understanding thumb sucking

In a nutshell: thumb guards play a vital role in maintaining oral care for children by preventing thumb sucking, a habit that can lead to dental misalignment and other oral health issues.

For many young children, thumb sucking starts in the womb. It is a natural reflex and is usually a sign that the baby is seeking comfort and security. Many children grow out of the habit as a toddler, but for a minority, the thumb sucking continues.

The reasons for this are often straightforward. A child may be looking for comfort, as they did in their mother’s womb. They may be anxious about a change in life – a new school, a new sibling or a new house, for example. In many cases it may just be a habit that they find difficult to break.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) in the USA states that “approximately 50 percent of infants at one year of age suck a thumb or finger.” They also note that the average age at which the habit stops is 3.8 years of age. One in every eight children (aged 7-11) have a prolonged digit sucking habit, according to the British Orthodontic Society. Girls are more likely to be prolonged digit suckers than boys.

Can thumb sucking lead to oral health problems? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

While short-term thumb sucking does not usually cause problems, if a child continues sucking beyond the age of 4 or 5, long-term problems can emerge. The most obvious problem is misaligned teeth. Prolonged thumb sucking can prevent teeth growing in the correct place, leading to an open bite, for example. This is where the incisor teeth of the upper and lower jaws are not well placed when closing the mouth.

Due to the irregularity of the teeth, speech problems such as lisping, imprecise pronunciation and thrusting out the tongue when talking can also occur.

Children can often experience jaw ache, due to the constant sucking motion, and they are at increased risk of thumb and mouth infections.

Sadly, we all know that children can be subject to bullying, and those that suck their thumbs at an older age may be mocked for what is seen as “childish” behaviour in the playground. This, in turn, can knock their confidence and self-esteem.

Fabric Thumb Guards

Worn day and night a Thumbsie® thumb guard can help your child to stop thumb sucking Buy Now

The role of thumb guards in oral care

One solution to protect your child’s teeth is a thumb guard. Thumb guards work in a very simple way. They are typically placed over the thumb, a bit like a mini glove, and act as a physical barrier to stop thumb sucking. A thumb guard does exactly what is says on the tin: it “guards” the thumb!

By protecting the thumb and ensuring a child doesn’t get the flesh of the thumb in their mouth, the long-term habit of thumb sucking can be broken. Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight, but NOT sucking a thumb eventually becomes learned behaviour.

It’s important to know that thumb guards don’t have to be intimidating, ugly or boring. If you’re going to wear something on your thumb for most of the day, why not make it exciting? Thumb guards can come in different designs, bright colours and a variety of fabrics. Wearing a thumb sucking product can almost become a fashion choice!

Types of thumb guards

At Thumbsie® we have dozens of different thumb guard designs. And we make finger guards too. All our fabric guards are made in the UK by our wonderful team of seamstresses.

Designs we have include superheroes, footballs, flowers, animals, dinosaurs and ballet dancers.

Thumbsies® are comfortable to wear and are fitted around the wrist with Velcro so are adjustable. It can help remind a child that they are about to suck their thumb and so act as a prevention method.

It is important to make sure a Thumbsie® fits, so that it does not fall off. Fortunately, we have a very handy measuring guide which can be used to find the exact fit for your child. We have five different sizes, so one of them will definitely fit!

Our thumb guards are comfortable

and come in five different sizes. For best results wear Thumbsie® day and night. Buy Now

Integrating thumb guards into children’s oral care routines

We find that many children are instantly drawn to our fun designs, and there is almost always one –or in many cases, several – fabrics that appeal to them.

However, if your child is unsure about their Thumbsie®, we’d recommend introducing it bit by bit. Perhaps for the first few days, they could wear it for 3-4 hours. Then after a week or so, they could try to wear it during the day. After another week, they could try to wear it through the night too. We do find that children quickly get quite attached to their thumb guards – and rightly so!

We typically recommend buying three Thumbsie® so that if one becomes overly dirty, you can easily change it.

Thumbsies® are made from cotton so are simple to wash by hand or in the washing machine at a low temperature. Please do wash them before use, once you have tried them on for a good fit.

We also recommend using a few other products to help break the thumb sucking habit. We offer a book, “Thumbs Up To Ted’s Thumbsie“, which is a fun, relatable story for children to read, and we recommend using a reward system – children thrive on positive reinforcement and praise.

Thumbs up for teds thumbsie book
Thumbs Up to Ted’s Thumbsie Book
Buy now

Success stories

One of the most commonly asked questions we hear is, “do you have any examples of success.” The answer to that is a resounding YES.

We have 4.8 stars out of 5 on Google reviews and thousands of happy parents from our decade in business.

You can read a few examples here:

My 6-year-old daughter sucked two fingers from about three weeks old. Her dentist told her she must stop! We ordered a set of three Thumbsies (for fingers) in March and initially used them in the daytime at times when the fingers would go in. They were lovely quality and the pretty fabric meant my daughter liked to choose which one to put on. After a couple of weeks using the Thumbsies and the star chart she broke the daytime habit. Nighttime was definitely harder and there were a few nights when the Thumbsie had to come off. It got easier and after 6 weeks or so the Thumbsie was really just there as a reminder. It’s now July and we are Thumbsie and finger-sucking free! A great result! Clare Thomson

A great product which was recommended by the dental hospital where my 13-year son is attending for his braces. He was told he couldn’t have the treatment unless he stopped sucking his thumb which is something he has done since being a baby. This product has completely stopped him and even better for us, he is happy to wear it at night. Highly recommended Laura Widman

The only thing to work! I tried Thumbsie after my dentist warned my 10-year-old daughter’s teeth were protruding due to her nighttime thumb sucking habit. Thumbsie stopped this immediately after trying plasters, gloves and nail paint for years to no avail! I also bought one for her 4-year-old sister who loved wearing it as it was so pretty and comfortable – another success before her adult teeth were affected. If only I had found Thumbsie sooner for her sister!! Rebecca McKinnon

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are Thumbsies® recommended by the dental profession?

Absolutely. Dentists from around the world recommend Thumbsies® and we are an officially approved product by the Oral Health Foundation.

  • What age are Thumbsies® suitable for?

We recommend for the age if 3 upwards should be able to wear a Thumbsie®. In some cases, children up to the age of 14 can fit into a Thumbsie®. We also offer a bespoke service, should the need arise.

  • Should a Thumbsie® be worn 24/7?

For best results, we recommend that a child wear their Thumbsie® all-day and night from the very start. Like any habit that is difficult to break continuity is important from the start. Thumbsies® are made from cotton and are comfortable to wear so they should not stop your child doing their normal activities.

  • Even at school?

Yes, most definitely. Our products are designed to be comfortable to wear all day and should not prohibit any activities that they may need to do at school, such as painting or writing. It’s a good idea to tell the teachers that you are trying to get your child to stop sucking their thumb. We are sure they will be willing to help and encourage too. We offer Thumbsies® in most coloured plain and gingham fabrics to match their school uniform.

  • How long should a child wear a Thumbsie®?

This is a tricky one, and taking the Thumbsie® away too early could result in the child regressing. As they are fun and comfortable, we suggest wearing them, especially at night, for a good period of time afterward. Start by wearing them less during the day and then test those difficult times first such as in front of the TV or when they are tired. You know your child best. When you think they are ready then take the Thumbsie® away.

You can read more FAQs here.


Thumb guards have a huge role to play in protecting children from the urge to suck their thumbs. By helping them break the thumb sucking habit, this in turn protects their teeth from misalignment and underdevelopment. It’s a two for one: healthy teeth and safe thumbs.

As we all know, children love routine. By helping them learn positive oral health habits, they will grow up understanding the importance of taking care of their teeth and adopting good hygiene practices – a vital lesson to learn.

Remember: if you want to discover effective strategies for ending thumb sucking in children, visit Thumbsie’s Guide on How to Stop Thumb Sucking for more information and support.


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