Oral Habits In Durham, NC

How Long Should My Child Use A Pacifier?

Pacifiers can be helpful for infants and may help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) up to the age of one. However, long-term use can be harmful for your child. Pacifier use can contribute to a higher risk of ear infections, and may also cause oral development issues with prolonged use. Our Durham office encourages parents to help stop their child's pacifier habit by age one. 

How To Wean Your Child Off The Pacifier

It is easier to slowly wean a child off the pacifier starting from six to twelve months old, since they have not yet formed an emotional attachment to their pacifier. (Most of the time, we as moms or dads are more attached to the 'binky'!) We encourage you to get wean the pacifier by age one. It may be more difficult to discontinue pacifier use in children ages two years or older.

Our doctors practice two different methods of weaning the pacifier that have worked well for many of our families. If you have a child with a pacifier habit in Durham, Chapel Hill or Roxboro, we can help guide you in the weaning process at your next visit!

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How to Stop Thumb-Sucking Habits

Thumb-sucking can be just as harmful as pacifier use in older kids, and it’s even more difficult to deal with since you can’t take your child’s thumb away! So here are a few strategies to use to fix thumb-sucking habits.

Use Positive Reinforcement

When your child avoids thumb-sucking for an hour, for example, you can encourage them, and give them a special reward like more playtime!

Identify Stress Triggers

Most kids suck their thumbs due to stress. So identify the source of their stress, and find other ways to comfort them. A hug, a favorite blanket, or reassuring words, for example.

Remind Your Child Gently

If your child subconsciously sucks their thumb without realizing it, don’t scold or criticize them. Remind them gently that they need to stop.

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Can Thumb-Sucking Or Pacifier Use Really Cause Long-Term Problems?

Yes. Both thumb-sucking and pacifier use contribute to a higher risk of ear infections, since the sucking keeps the ear canal open abnormally. 

The issue is even worse when the adult teeth come in. Sucking the thumb or a pacifier can cause the jaw and teeth to develop incorrectly. This may require extensive orthodontic correction. So make sure your child stops using a pacifier and stops sucking their thumb between the ages of 2-4.

Early Signs Parents Should Look Out For

Crying When Deprived Of Pacifier

If your child always cries when they don’t have their pacifier, this is a sign they are very attached to it, and it’s a good idea to start weaning them off of its use as soon as possible.

Constant Thumb-Sucking

Thumb sucking is normal in infants, and in toddlers, to an extent. Most kids stop thumb-sucking on their own between the ages of 2-4. But if your child continues to suck their thumb frequently during this time, this may be a sign of unhealthy oral habits.

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