Babies love having pacifiers, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that pacifiers are always good, especially for their teeth. Excessive use of pacifiers can cause abnormal tooth development as well as other health problems. But the good news is that this is avoidable! Find out how to ensure that pacifiers are a comfort and not a complication for you and your little one.
Will My Baby Develop Pacifier Teeth?
What Do Pacifiers Do?
Pacifiers can be very beneficial for parents and kids, especially in those early months. The benefits of a pacifier are:
- They soothe a crying infant, which also helps soothe a parent’s nerves
- They can help reduce pain for a nursing infant
- They reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Pacifiers are especially helpful for premature infants in the intensive care unit since they can shorten hospital stays and aid tube-fed babies in learning how to use a bottle.
Are Pacifiers Bad for Teeth?
Unfortunately, pacifiers can cause problems for your child, especially with their oral health. The Canadian Dental Association notes that if a child keeps sucking a soother or thumb after the permanent teeth have come in, it could cause problems with how the jaw and teeth grow, which may cause issues in the alignment of the teeth. They can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth. The older a child gets the higher the chances of developing issues.
Pacifiers can also increase the possibility of ear infections and cause breastfeeding difficulties. That’s why it’s advisable to introduce a pacifier only after you’re comfortable getting your baby latched on to your breast.
How to Use Pacifiers Responsibly and Avoid Damage to the Teeth
It’s important to note that the intensity of sucking can heavily influence whether dental problems may occur. If babies passively place the pacifier or thumb in their mouth, they are less likely to develop problems with their baby teeth than infants who vigorously suck their thumbs or pacifiers. As a parent, it’s crucial to take note of how your child is using the pacifier.
It’s also essential to avoid pacifiers that aren’t one-piece or have removable parts or liquid interiors. Clean your baby’s pacifier regularly and never dip it in sweet liquids.
Breaking the Habit
According to Health Link BC, most children will stop sucking between the ages of 3 and 5, but if the habit continues past the age of four (when permanent teeth erupt) it can cause dental problems. That said, if you notice changes in your child's primary teeth or are just concerned about your child's pacifier or thumb-sucking habit, it’s time to check with your pediatric dentist. A dentist might recommend a mouth appliance to help break the habit.
Encouragement and praise are tools that you can and should use at home to help your little one break the habit. Kids often suck their thumbs if they’re seeking comfort or if they’re feeling insecure. That’s why, instead of scolding or reprimanding your child, focusing on addressing the cause of the anxiety can help.
For babies who need a little extra comfort and soothing, pacifiers can be an invaluable tool. But like all good things, they’re best used in moderation. With a bit of care and oversight, you can ensure that your baby enjoys the pacifier without experiencing any pacifier teeth!