It is very common (and totally normal!) for babies and young children to suck on pacifiers, fingers, or other objects. But if these oral habits go on past a certain age, they may lead to teeth and jaw problems. By knowing when to take a pacifier away, and how to break your child of this habit, you can help prevent the need for braces down the line.
When to Take a Pacifier Away (And Why)
Most kids stop taking a pacifier between ages 2–4. If the sucking habit continues after the child turns 4 years old, it may cause the upper front teeth to protrude or not come in right. Prolonged pacifier and thumbsucking habits can also cause bite problems, as well as issues with jaw and bone growth. So it’s best to take a pacifier away at age 3, if not sooner.
How to Take a Pacifier Away
Remember, most kids will stop sucking on a pacifier on their own. If you have a 3-year-old child who still sucks on a pacifier (or thumb, fingers, etc.), it may help to get the pediatric dentist involved. Your child’s dentist can encourage her to stop sucking and explain in simple terms what will happen to the teeth and jaws if she doesn’t. The dentist’s encouragement combined with your support should be enough to help the child stop.
More Ways to Prevent Braces
Sometimes braces are simply unavoidable. However, in some cases, braces can be avoided by establishing and maintaining good oral health practices from the get-go. Check out our previous post to learn How to Prevent Braces from an Early Age.
Have questions about when to take a pacifier away? Think your child may need braces? Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with St. Louis orthodontist, Dr. Dougherty. Call 636.825.1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.