If you worry about the ways in which prolonged pacifier use will impact your child’s oral development, you are not alone. There’s no denying that babies and toddlers love sucking on pacifiers because of the natural, comforting feeling it provides. However, when babies repeatedly suck on a pacifier or thumb over an extended period of time, it can lead to dental problems and other oral health issues. Many parents are rightly concerned that pacifier use can lead to abnormal tooth development and other medical problems. Fortunately, by following the guidelines recommended by the reputable pediatric dentist in Los Angeles, Dr. Moradzadeh, your baby can enjoy pacifier use without it majorly affecting their tooth development.
- Pacifier usage reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Because babies sucking on pacifiers tend to sleep less deeply than those who sleep without pacifiers, it reduces the risk of not being able to awake a sleeping infant.
- The pacifier helps soothe fussiness and pain due to teething or exposure to new routines.
- Sucking on a pacifier provides a source of comfort for infants and toddlers, especially if left alone for naptime and bedtime. It can help parents get some much needed rest!
- Prolonged use can harm the growth and development of an infant’s mouth and teeth.
- Prolonged use can cause changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth, prevent proper growth of the mouth, and create problems with tooth alignment.
- The constant sucking motion on a pacifier opens the auditory tubes in the ear more than normal, allowing for bacteria from the throat to leak into the middle ear. This increases the risk of acute middle ear infections in infants and toddlers.
- Continued thumb sucking or pacifier usage can lead to improper jaw alignment. Be sure to take your toddler to the dentist for annual check-ups to avoid oral development problems.
Tips for Weaning Your Child Off of Pacifiers:
To avoid long-term dental health problems, help your child stop using a pacifier by age two. If your child continues to suck their pacifier or thumb until age four, some long-term issues could occur in regard to normal oral development. Therefore, it is important that you break your child of the habit by age four. In order to break their habit, try some of the following tips:
- Pierce the top of the pacifier or cut it shorter to reduce the gratification your toddler gets from sucking it.
- Provide praise and rewards for each night that your child goes pacifierfree.
- Utilize star charts and other incentives, like increased game or screen time, to break the habit. Often times a misdirect or better incentive can entice them to stop pacifier usage.
If your child is having a hard time coping without a pacifier, schedule an appointment with the trusted team at Crystal Dental Center. We are here to help! For further information or to schedule an appointment with our pediatric dentist in Los Angeles, Dr. Alex Moradzadeh, please call Crystal Dental at 213.748.8448 or visit www.CrystalDentalCenters.com to learn more.