The AAPD recommends that a child wean from an oral habit such as a pacifier or thumb-sucking by the age of 36 months or younger to reduce the potential for posterior crossbite, anterior open bite, tooth changes, and/or malocclusion. Cessation of the habit is easier said than done, however, the sooner the better to lessen the chance for such orthodontic problems! There are some methods that parents have found useful such as a positive incentive calendar, reminder appliance, distraction techniques, or foul-tasting nail polish. Even tossing the binky in the trash and going for it cold turkey has been successful! Regardless of the technique, the benefits of quitting the habit outweigh the challenges of the process.
Here is an example of a patient of Dr. Bunch who quit the pacifier habit at age 3yo and without any intervention, experiences spontaneous correction of the anterior open bite in just a few short weeks! Now that the habit has been eliminated, the tongue muscle makes appropriate contact with the roof of the mouth, helping to shape the dental arches and encouraging the teeth to come together in proper occlusion. While additional orthodontic intervention may be necessary down the road, the results of this self-correction are remarkable!
Bring your habit concerns and questions to Dr. Bunch and together, let’s develop a plan to help your kiddo quit!
3 years old initial
2 weeks after
1 month after
4 years old final