Are you wondering if it is ok to give your baby a pacifier? Many parents worry about this. You hear various things about pacifier use from others that may or may not be true. As soon as you’re expecting or once you bring your baby home from the hospital, it seems everyone is full of advice to give new parents.
But when it comes to your baby’s teeth, the best advice comes from a dentist. Here’s what dentists want new parents to know about babies and pacifiers.
Pacifier Use Has Many Benefits
Let’s start with the benefits of pacifier use, because there are many:
- Babies can use a pacifier to self-soothe.
- Pacifier use reduces the risk of SIDS.
- Pacifiers can be taken away when it is time to break the habit, whereas thumbs and fingers cannot.
- Babies may fall asleep faster and fall asleep on their own with the help of a pacifier.
- Pacifier use on planes can help soothe babies during flights.
- Pacifiers can be a distraction for babies during immunizations, while waiting for food to be ready, and as a way to cope with any situation where they may become fussy.
Possible Negative Effects of Pacifier Use
While there are many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to letting your baby get used to having a pacifier, such as:
- Starting pacifier use too early can interfere with breastfeeding.
- Pacifier use once teeth have erupted can cause orthodontic problems.
- Sucking on a pacifier can actually change the shape of the roof of your baby’s mouth.
- Too frequent pacifier use after teeth have erupted can increase the risk of tooth decay.
- Pacifiers can increase the risk of ear infections.
- Your baby may become dependent on their pacifier to sleep.
Dental and Orthodontic Effects of Pacifier Use
Of the many disadvantages of using a pacifier, dental and orthodontic problems are an important consideration. Not only is it beneficial for your child’s overall health and wellness to have healthy, properly aligned teeth, but it can save you a lot of money. Cavity fillings and braces are expensive, even when you have insurance.
Pacifier use beyond the baby and toddler years can greatly increase the chances that your child will need braces later in life. It can also have damaging effects on the health of the teeth as they come in. Although the baby teeth will eventually fall out, they set the stage for the permanent teeth that will follow. Unhealthy baby teeth lead to unhealthy adult teeth.
At what age should pacifier use be discontinued?
It is best for your baby if you can eliminate pacifier use by the age of 2. When the pacifier is taken away by then it allows the negative effects on jaw bone development and teeth alignment to correct themselves, usually within 6 months of breaking the habit. If pacifier use continues into the preschool years, the risks of permanent effects are increased.
Tips for Breaking the Pacifier Habit
If you want to discontinue use of a pacifier with your baby, toddler, or preschooler, here are some suggestions:
- Cut the tip so that it won’t work as it should. The different feeling of it in their mouth might be enough to make them stop wanting it.
- “Forget” to bring it on vacation and the child may get used to doing without it after just a few nights away.
- Offer a reward if the child gives up their pacifier.
- Simply stop offering it to your baby.
Trust Your Baby’s Dental Health to Orange County Pediatric Dentistry
When it comes to your baby’s dental health, you want to do what’s best for them. Early dental care is an important part of your baby’s overall health and wellness. Orange County Pediatric Dentistry can help build a foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth.