Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thumb or finger sucking solution

Got a hard-core thumb or finger sucker?  No one in our house has been a thumb-sucker. It’s the middle two fingers of the right hand that are loved around here. I’m not one to get hot under the collar about little kids sucking – it’s natural and it’s harmless. But now that permanent teeth have arrived, the issue can no longer be ignored.

We started last year with the “serious chat” about the damage that would be done if the sucking continued. That didn’t work. We tried band-aids. They would be taken off in the middle of the night once the urge got too strong. We tried horrible nail polish. You can get around that by sucking the fingers of the other hand or, if Mum gets wise to that, you can quickly suck – yuck – and wipe the nails on your pyjamas until you’ve gotten enough of it off to make it bearable. So were applying horrible chemicals regularly and getting nowhere.

These school holidays, I got desperate. The teeth are noticeably being affected now. So I order the T-Guard® FingerGuard®.

It costs a lot! Over $100 once you include postage. But desperate times call for desperate measures. And I figured it was still cheaper than dental work!

The FingerGuard® slips over the two sucker fingers and then is secured at the wrist with a hospital-style wrist band. You have to cut the band to get it off. The tubes over the fingers stop the sucker from being able to create a vacuum when sucking thus making comfort-sucking virtually impossible. It’s a good system and the design works well. We had some initial trouble because unless the bracelet was very, very tight, our child could wriggle and wriggle until her fingers were out of the guard.  So it was harder to fit than it first appeared. Nevertheless, I think for most kids it would be a great solution.  The same company makes the ThumbGuard® as well.

Alas, it was not a great solution for our child however. Firstly, the middle two fingers of the other hand became a handy replacement. The fix for this is to buy another FingerGuard® for the other hand. But at $100 each that’s a big call. So in desperation, we tried Elastoplast around the first three fingers of one hand in addition to the FingerGuard® on the other hand. That was nasty to take off the next day. And she moved on to her thumbs then. Arghghghg! This is one hard-core addict.

So in desperation, I Googled some more and I found a Youtube clip by a dentist that suggested you put both hands in long socks up to their elbows, put a long-sleeve t-shirt over the top, and then safety-pin the socks to the t-shirt at the elbows. A good low-tech solution. Wish I’d seen that first.

It inspired me to create my own hybrid “sucker solution”. I generously donated a pair of my least favourite (clean) socks. One sock over goes over each hand. Then I cut two 2cm slits in the front and back of each sock at the wrist. Through these slits, I threaded one of the plastic bracelets that came with the FingerGuard® kit. Lock and you’re done.

The slits are necessary otherwise the sock can be slowly pulled out from under the bracelet. They also mean that you only need to have the bracelet tight enough so that the child’s hand can’t be slipped from underneath it. Not having the bracelet so tight, and having the sock as a buffer, means that it is much more comfortable than the set up of the FingerGuard®. Because the sock covers the whole hand, it’s suitable for both finger and thumb suckers and your child can’t just switch fingers on you to keep the habit going. If you couldn’t get hold of medical bracelets, I think you could substitute easily with something like thin ribbon and a decent knot. Because your child will have both hands covered, it would be very hard to undo the knot. The only loss is a good pair of socks – but that’s cheaper than dental work.

I’ll let you know in a few weeks whether we’ve been able to break the habit!


Ben McLaughlin said...

I get the frustration, but my heart goes out to he littlun. I sucked my thumb until I was (cough)twelve(cough). It is a super hard habit to break. I remember having this foul brown stuff painted on me. I'd quickly suck it off, pyew spit blagh, and then off I'd go again.

Karen said...

Looking forward to your update.

My two older kids sucked the middle two fingers on the right hand too. They gave it up of their own accord (thankfully!) before it could do too much tooth damage, I think they'd both stopped by the time they started school.

Now we have the two little ones who both suck the middle two fingers on their left hand. At the moment it's kind of cute when they sit next to eachother sucking away. But I'm hoping they follow the big guys' example when the time comes...

Deb said...

Yeah, I've let it go so long because I felt for her too. I sucked the same fingers but gave it up without trouble. I can see the teeth damage with this child - the open bite in her front teeth is making it difficult to bite apples etc - so I have to get tough. But she's tolerating it pretty well.

Deb said...

It was very cute when my two were little. I know what you mean!