For parents, a pacifier can be a lifesaver when trying to soothe a young child. Sucking is a natural habit for them. The use of pacifiers can be a concern for some parents as it can be a hard habit for the child to break. Many also have questions about whether pacifiers are harmful to your baby’s teeth. We’ll explore this in this post along with tips on pacifier use, as recommended by experts.
The Downside of Pacifier Use
Sucking is not as dangerous during your child’s first years. But if they continue with this habit even as their baby teeth start to fall out, then they could become more susceptible to dental issues. For instance, their top front teeth may start protruding or they may have misaligned jaw and bite issues.
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According to the Academy of General Dentistry, pacifier use is also linked to ear infections. Long-term sucking can result to the abnormal opening of the auditory tubes. When this happens, bacteria from throat secretions can be transmitted to the middle ear.
The Positive Side of Pacifiers
On the upside, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry prefers pacifier use over thumb sucking. According to experts, it’s easier to encourage the little ones to get rid of their pacifiers than to keep them from sucking their thumb as it is a more natural reflex for them.
Tips for Using Pacifiers
You don’t have to take your baby’s pacifier away from them. Here are tips from dental professionals when letting kids use pacifiers:
- Refrain from fastening the pacifier to a string. This could strangle or choke your baby.
- Do not dip the pacifier in anything sweet to try to comfort your baby. This can increase their risk of acquiring tooth decay at an early age.
- Always check the size of the pacifier in your baby’s mouth. If they can fit the entire pacifier inside their mouth, replace or discontinue use.
- Replace the pacifier if it shows signs of wear.
- When your baby is using their pacifier do not leave them unsupervised. Don’t let them sleep with it.
How to Encourage Your Baby to Let Go of Their Pacifiers
- Stay positive when breaking your baby’s pacifier habit. Do not punish them or associate the use of the pacifier with fear. If they agree to not use their pacifier anymore or even just for a night, reward them for it.
- Watch for situations that make them demand their pacifier. You might want to avoid these triggers and help your little one find more ways to relax or calm down other than using their pacifier.
- Seeing your Carstairs family dentist can also help encourage your child to let go of their pacifiers. Your dentist can talk to your little one about the effects of the long-term use of pacifiers on their teeth. They may also be able to suggest alternative dental appliances in case thumb-sucking is your child’s habit.
Let your baby enjoy their pacifier during their first years all while making sure they use it safely. Ensure, though, that the pacifier use does not go on too long. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask your family dentist in Carstairs should you have any questions about caring for your baby’s teeth.