Whether or not you allow your baby to use a pacifier is a hard decision, especially if you are a new parent. Are pacifiers bad for teeth? Definitely no! If you have seen a baby contentedly sucking on one, you will never doubt the benefits of its use, and medical experts would not even argue. Pediatricians and dentists agree that babies should not be discouraged from using pacifiers. In fact, it’s preferable to thumb sucking.
The Benefits of Using Pacifiers
Aside from keeping a baby relaxed and calm, the use of pacifiers has been associated with shorter hospital stays for premature babies and reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Babies using pacifiers also had an easier time weaning than those who suck their thumbs.
However, many parents are concerned about the possible dental problems that prolonged pacifier use may cause. What is pacifier teeth? Is it preventable? Read on to learn more.
What Is Pacifier Teeth?
Babies’ mouths and teeth continue to grow and mature throughout childhood. The long-term use of a pacifier may affect mouth shape and teeth alignment. According to experts, it is common to see the following dental problems in cases of pacifier teeth:
- The baby or toddler’s front teeth may tip forward and become crooked
- Bite problems due to changes in teeth position and jaw alignment
- Front teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed, causing changes on the roof of the mouth
- Teeth spacing
- Speech problems
How Do You Fix Pacifier Teeth?
Pacifier teeth will not correct themselves naturally. Your little one will more likely make frequent visits to a dentist. In the worst cases, a child may require complex orthodontic treatment to correct teeth positioning. However, this cannot be started until the child reaches at least nine years old.
The use of myofunctional therapy has been proven to be helpful when trying to stop this habit. It also helps improve swallowing patterns and tongue positioning, which may save babies from health issues later in life.
Prevention is still your best bet with prolonged pacifier use!
How Can You Prevent Pacifier Teeth?
Stop the Habit Early in Life
A good guideline for when babies should stop using a pacifier is once they start cooing and babbling at five months old. At this time, they have better control over their mouth and tongue. Suckling is now replaced by sucking. Teething also begins, and this is the best time to switch to teething rings and other gum soothing items.
Stopping pacifier use early will prevent the emotional stress that may come from weaning or stopping pacifier use abruptly. Also, if the use continues beyond the age of two, there is a higher risk for malocclusion.
However, breaking the habit is easier said than done. To help your child wean from the pacifier, you have to make the experience dissatisfying. You may dip the pacifier in white vinegar or pierce the top of the pacifier to reduce sucking pleasure.
Switch to an Orthodontic Pacifier
If you cannot stop your baby from using a pacifier at an early age, you can use the best type of pacifiers. You likely already know about the common types, such as the single piece, multiple piece, novelty, and feeding pacifiers, but how about an orthodontic pacifier?
An orthodontic pacifier is specifically made to help minimize most pacifier teeth damage. What makes it different from the rest?
- Its design does not interfere with the normal development of the jawbone and palate
- There is less pressure on the baby’s gums during sucking
- It helps mimic natural suckling by flattening when the baby sucks on it
So, if you think it’s impossible to stop your baby from using a pacifier anytime soon, you might as well invest in a pacifier that prioritizes dental health.
Praise and Encouragement Works!
Encouragement and praise are both very helpful when trying to break a habit. Praise your toddler when he or she does not use a pacifier. Give rewards like a start stamp or other tooth-friendly treats for every night that goes by pacifier-free.
If your baby asks for a pacifier during stressful situations, offer hugs and kisses. Comfort your child and try to divert their attention to other interesting things or activities.
Never punish your toddler for using a pacifier! This may encourage them to use it more to cope with the reprimand.
Practice Good Oral Care
Of course, keeping your baby’s teeth as clean and normal as possible will help prevent other dental problems. Brushing twice daily using an age-appropriate toothpaste is highly recommended.
Remember, your little one’s smile is an investment in their future. A confident smile greatly affects every aspect of an adult life, from careers to personal relationships.
Get early treatment and prevention tips in case of pacifier teeth. Call our clinic at (970) 247-3303! We are one of the few clinics to offer holistic dentistry in Durango, CO. Our professionals know exactly what to do to help keep your child’s teeth and mouth healthy.