Pacifiers have been around for over a century, providing parents and babies alike with much-needed comfort and peace. There is nothing wrong with comforting a baby with a pacifier, but it’s important to do so correctly. Otherwise, the presence of the pacifier could lead to a condition known as ‘pacifier teeth.’ In this guide, we will explain what this condition is and how you can prevent pacifier teeth for your child.
What Is Pacifier Teeth?
Pacifier teeth is a condition in which a baby’s teeth grow in crooked or misaligned. After long-term exposure, the teeth and gums adjust to accommodate the pacifier. This may cause the upper teeth to jut forward, which causes bite problems later on. Thankfully, these issues are preventable.
How to Prevent Pacifier Teeth
The best way to avoid pacifier teeth is to use pacifiers at the appropriate time. Wait at least one month after the baby is born to start using a pacifier. This ensures that the baby adjusts to breastfeeding or bottle feeding. After that, plan to wean the baby off pacifiers by age two. Any dental effects that may have developed before age two should correct themselves within six months. Children who have the biggest risk of pacifier teeth are those that remain on the pacifier through age three and four.
Pacifier vs. Thumb Sucking
Thumb sucking and pacifiers have similar consequences. Both can alter the development of a child’s teeth if used for too long. Typically, it is easier to control pacifier use than it is to control thumb sucking. That is because the parent remains in control of the pacifier. The thumb is present at all times. Click here to learn more about the dental dangers of thumb sucking.
Weaning Your Child off the Pacifier
When you start to wean your child off the pacifier, find alternative coping mechanisms for him or her. For instance, you might transition to a stuffed toy when your child feels anxious. Teach your child to breathe deeply or talk to you when he or she feels upset. Reward your child for getting through a difficult situation without using the pacifier.
Do not punish your child for using a pacifier. This may cause the child to rely even more on the pacifier for comfort. Instead, focus on finding alternative coping strategies that work well for him or her.
If you’d like to schedule a pediatric dentist appointment with Dr. Sadikoff, contact Clinton Dental Center at (586) 949-5363.