A common question parents have is, “Will my baby develop pacifier teeth?” This is a frequently asked question because most babies use a pacifier. As the months pass, parents grow increasingly concerned that using a pacifier will cause problems with their child’s mouth and teeth. The challenge is that by the time the parent becomes aware of potential problems, the pacifier habit is firmly established and difficult to break.
As you seek information on pacifiers and the problems they cause, rest assured that your baby’s desire to suck on their fingers or a pacifier is normal and natural. This is your baby’s way of discovering and feeling secure in their new world. This security helps them feel safe enough to fall asleep. However, you also must be aware of the potential problem known as pacifier teeth.
What Are Pacifier Teeth?
Long-term pacifier use beyond two years old creates several oral complications with your child’s teeth, growth of their mouth, teeth alignment, and roof of the mouth. These complications include:
- Pushing the top teeth forward
- Tilting the bottom teeth backwards
- Misaligning teeth and making them crooked
- Creating a problem with jaw alignment that interferes with your child’s bite
- Changing the shape of the roof of the mouth
- Making your child more prone totooth decay
Do Pacifiers Affect Permanent Teeth?
Your child’s baby teeth and mouth growth have a significant influence on their adulthood oral health. It is essential to prevent any habits that negatively affect their permanent teeth and mouth development. Two important habits to avoid are eating foods with added sugars and sucking a pacifier past the age of two years. In addition to the complications mentioned above, pacifier teeth can also interfere with proper speech development as your child ages.
How To Avoid Pacifier Teeth?
It is important to remember that young babies benefit from using a pacifier. However, you want to avoid pacifier teeth by taking appropriate steps to ensure pacifier use ends as early as possible. To accomplish your goal, you want to make sure your child does not replace sucking on a pacifier with sucking on their thumb since this also causes problems.
Breaking the Pacifier Habit
Parents commonly ask how they can get their baby to stop using a pacifier. At the appropriate time for your baby try these tips to break the habit.
- Start weaning your child off the pacifier as early as possible.
- Decide on abrupt withdrawal or gradual reduction in time of using a pacifier. Then stick to the plan you choose.
- Use positive reinforcement and rewards for success. Avoid scolding your child when they relapse and use the pacifier.
- Use blankets and stuffed animals to comfort your child in place of the pacifier.
- Encourage your child that not using the pacifier means they are a “big kid.”
Your child’s oral health strongly affects their oral health as adults. Instilling new habits begins early. One of these habits is regular dental checkups. If you need help with breaking the pacifier habit, seek help from your child’s dentist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do pacifier teeth correct themselves?
If your child can break the pacifier early, the problem with a misaligned bite corrects itself naturally. However, suppose your child continues using a pacifier and develops pacifier teeth and their associated problems. In that case, the symptoms will not resolve naturally. This requires intervention and treatment from a dental professional.
What is tongue thrust?
If your child uses the pacifier too long, they can develop a condition known as tongue thrust. This is a disruption in the development of a normal swallowing pattern. With tongue thrust, the tongue protrudes between the upper and lower front teeth during speaking and swallowing.
Are some pacifiers better than others?
You want to choose the best pacifier for your baby. Here are some pacifier buying tips:
- Choose the right size. Pacifiers usually come in three size groups:
- Six months or younger.
- Six to eighteen months.
- Eighteen months or older.
- Choose a durable pacifier. Pull on its parts to ensure a solid construction.
- Choose the right nipple material. Latex and silicone are popular nipples. Silicone is dishwasher safe and avoids the issue of latex allergy.
- Choose a nipple with an adequate guard to prevent them from drawing it into their mouth and choking. The guard should also have holes for proper ventilation.
— By Dr. Steven I Received his Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) from the Medical College of Georgia before practicing general dentistry in the United States Navy. He then completed a residency in endodontics at the Medical College of Georgia.