Preventing Pacifiers From Destroying Your Child's Dental Health

Dentist Blog

If you are thinking about using a pacifier to help calm your baby, you should be aware that pacifiers can be detrimental to your child's oral health in the long run. Here are some questions you should know the answers to before you decide to use a pacifier to calm your young child.

When should my child stop using a pacifier?

You should discontinue the use of a pacifier when your child reaches the age of two. This is because up until two years of age any problems with the alignment of the teeth or problems with bone development in the jaw will be corrected naturally. After two years of age continued use of a pacifier can cause changes in the shape of the mouth and severe misalignment of baby teeth that only a dentist can fix.

What are the specific oral effects that can occur when your child uses a pacifier for too long?

Prolonged pacifier use can result in an anterior open bite. An anterior open bite occurs when there is an open gap between the front teeth at the top of your child's mouth and the front teeth at the bottom of the child's mouth. This means that when your child closes their mouth the back teeth touch but the front teeth don't.

How can I wean my child off a pacifier before the age of two?

There are several options available to you when you decide to wean your child off of a pacifier. These options include:

  1. Start limiting pacifier use by the time your child is one and a half years old. You can start by restricting pacifier use to bedtime only.
  2. You can try going cold turkey. This means that you take away the pacifier and deal with any possible tantrums or withdrawal problems that your child may have.
  3. Another method you might want to try is making the pacifier taste bad. You can do this by rubbing it in the gel of an aloe vera plant to give it a bitter taste or you can dip it in lemon juice to give it a sour taste.
  4. Try putting a small hole in the top of the pacifier with a pin. This will diminish the resistance that your child gets when they suck on the pacifier. Once this begins to happen your child is likely start losing interest in the pacifier.

If you decide that a pacifier is the best option for your child, then bearing the question and answers listed above in mind will help you to reap only the positive effects of using a pacifier and avoid the negative ones. A pediatric dentist at a practice like Smile Builders - Robyn Lesser DMD will be able to answer specific questions you have about your child's oral health and early teeth.


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