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Will a Pacifier Affect the Development of My Baby’s Teeth?

February 16, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — sproutdentistryforkids @ 3:47 am

Dummies, binkies, pacis…no matter what you call them, pacifiers are a favorite of many parents and babies alike. Babies find them very soothing, and a parent is always interested in solutions when their child is crying. The catch comes if a child sticks with pacifier use for too long as they grow. Dental problems can develop, which is important for parents who need a good reason to take the ever-popular item away for good. Read on to learn more from a pediatric dentist in McKinney.

Are Pacifiers Problematic for Teeth?

Before discussing the negatives, it’s only fair to mention a few positive aspects of pacifiers. They promote self-soothing in babies, reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), aid in weaning nursing babies, and can reduce discomfort in nursing infants.

Even in returning to the downside of pacifiers, remember that most oral issues arise when a child has used a pacifier for too long. Potential variations of a misaligned bite that can occur are a crossbite, open bite, or another type of malocclusion (misalignment between teeth of the upper and lower dental arches when the jaws close). When a child is too old but doesn’t stop using a pacifier, it can force their teeth to move and even change the shape of the roof of their mouth.

In fact, a 2001 study found malocclusion present in more than 70 percent of participating children who maintained pacifier use or thumb-sucking past age four. Those figures drop to 36 percent when stopping between ages 3-4 and just 14 percent when stopping by age two.

There have been links between pacifier use and pediatric cavities or gum loss, but it’s only fair to mention some parents dip pacifiers in sweet, sugary substances.

What Constitutes Responsible Pacifier Use?

It’s fine to use pacifiers with your child; the key is being mindful of their oral hygiene and weaning them off the “binkie” before they get too old. Here are some tips for a positive pacifier experience:

  • Don’t let multiple children use the same pacifier. It’s a bit gross, but more importantly, this raises a child’s risk of bacteria exposure.
  • Don’t dip their pacifier in anything. This is obvious, but putting something sweet on their pacifier ramps up cavity risk.
  • Make sure the pacifier size is right. These days, pacifiers come in various sizes and are usually listed with recommended age ranges. Too large or too small are both problematic.
  • You might opt for orthodontic pacifiers. They are flatter, so your baby’s jaws remain properly aligned. With that being said, there aren’t any studies showing orthodontic pacifiers decrease the risk of dental issues, so the timetable to wean your baby off them doesn’t change.

Is Age Four the Magic Number?

It depends on who you ask. Some physicians recommend reducing pacifier use between 6-12 months of age due to an increased risk of contracting ear infections. This notion was supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2009.

More recently, the AAP has stated pacifier use beyond age two may cause issues with baby teeth, but these can be reversed if your child stops the behavior before their adult teeth arrive. Pacifier use should be stopped after age three, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

The one thing everyone agrees on – children shouldn’t be using a pacifier of any kind by age four due to the high risk of dental issues. Vigorous thumb-sucking can be equally problematic, as four years old is believed to be the cutoff point for it as well. have

About the Author

Dr. Sage Yoo earned his dental doctorate from Tufts University in Boston on his journey to become a pediatric dentist. He is a member of the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. As a trusted pediatric dentist in McKinney, Dr. Yoo and fellow board-certified pediatric dentist Dr. Justin Chan have some proven strategies that focus on positive reinforcement in regard to pacifiers and thumb sucking. They look forward to a discussion at your toddler’s appointment, which you can schedule on their website or by calling (469) 813-7127.

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