Many parents ask, “Do pacifiers affect babies’ teeth?”
It is important to keep in mind that pacifier use is a parents’ personal decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends offering a pacifier at naptime or bedtime until age one. However, the risks of pacifier use begin to outweigh the benefits as your baby gets older.
Pacifiers can provide babies with a soothing sensation, which keeps them content and provides a feeling of relaxation. However, frequent pacifier use may cause dental issues and complications as teeth develop.
What Are Pacifier Teeth?
Pacifier teeth is a condition that may occur as a result of extended pacifier use. A baby’s mouth and teeth begin forming in the womb and continue to grow throughout childhood. Any object held in an infant’s mouth for long periods during this important time can affect tooth positioning and dental development. According to the AAPD and American Dental Association, the dental effects of frequent pacifier use include:
- Crooked teeth
- Problems with jaw alignment
- Protruding front teeth
- Changes to the roof of the mouth
What Age Should My Baby Stop Using A Pacifier?
Parents can avoid the risks of their baby developing pacifier teeth by weaning their baby away from the pacifier by age two. By this age, some dental effects may be seen, but the greatest changes appear in children older than four years. Pacifiers have also shown to increase the risk of ear infections in babies older than six months.
How Do I Stop My Baby From Using A Pacifier?
For younger infants, delaying pacifier use until breast-feeding is established, about 4-6 weeks. Swaddling, rocking, singing, playing soft music and infant massage can be effective alternatives to pacifier use.
For older infants and toddlers: activities, toys or other objects of affection, such as a blanket with satin edging, might help distract your child from his or her desire for the pacifier.
For Toddlers and older children: Consider holding a special ceremony to bury or discard the pacifier. You can also allow your child to trade in his or her pacifier for a special book or toy. encouragement and praise are the best tools for breaking a pacifier habit. Praising your baby for not using a pacifier, and providing a reward can create a sense of motivation to stop. If children use pacifiers when feeling anxious, try avoiding stressful situations and offering cuddles and other comforts. For young babies who need some extra soothing at times, pacifiers provide the perfect feeling of reassurance.