Many parents use pacifiers to calm fretful babies, but is this a healthy option for their teeth in the long run? While it’s true that pacifiers can lead to tooth decay and affect the proper growth of children’s mouths and teeth, it’s possible for your baby to use a pacifier without it interfering with their oral health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry actually suggests using a pacifier rather than encouraging thumb-sucking since it’s easier to wean a child off of a pacifier versus a thumb-sucking habit.
The long term use of a pacifier can cause crooked teeth, bite problems, changes in jaw alignment, and poor tooth position. Ideally, your child should stop using their pacifier by age 3 to avoid any long term effects. While positive reinforcement is the best way to wean your child off their pacifier, a helpful trick is to cut off pieces week by week until the entire nipple is gone.
Prolonged pacifier habits may cause your child’s upper front baby teeth to flare out and give the appearance of an “overbite”. This actually puts that pretty smile at a high risk of knocking them out.
Fortunately, you can take away a pacifier, you can’t take away a thumb. Here are some tips on finally dropping the binky:
- Have the “binky fairy” visit over night one night and leave a toy to replace all binkys
- Give all the binkys to a friend or family member having a new baby
- At around 9 months of age, stop replacing any lost binkys
Remember, the first 48 hours are the toughest for everyone especially mom and dad!!
If you’re having a hard time getting your child to stop their sucking habit, the doctors at Sunshine Smiles can help you to devise a plan to help your child stop. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, contact us today!