At Turner Lim Orthodontists, patients often ask whether pacifiers can cause harm to their children. In this post, we address the concerns.
Sucking is natural
The desire to suck is normal. After all, it’s how babies eat. Most babies lose the urge after about six months; however, some continue to comfort themselves.
Problems can arise when the habit continues for too long. Pacifiers can affect tooth alignment if your child continues sucking after two to four years of age. The good news, though, is if your child ‘kicks the habit’ before her baby teeth start to fall out (around six or seven), it’s likely that her bite will correct itself.
Most dental professionals believe that a pacifier is better for a child than her thumb — simply because it’s easier to give up.
To be sure there is no lasting damage, it pays to limit your child’s pacifier time or even take it away after her first year.
What damage can a pacifier do?
Here are some of the negative effects of sucking a pacifier or thumb for too long:
- Top front teeth can slope outwards, and bottom front teeth slope inwards.
- The child’s upper and lower jaws can become misaligned.
- The roof of the child’s mouth can become narrower.
To reduce any possible damage to your child’s teeth, consider getting an orthodontic pacifier. Research shows that they cause fewer bite problems than the traditional type.
With a nipple that is rounded at the top and flat at the bottom, an orthodontic pacifier supports the form of a baby’s growing palate and jaw. Like a mother’s nipple, it flattens in the mouth to provide a natural sucking action and create less pressure on gums and teeth.
Where can you get one?
We don’t supply orthodontic pacifiers at Turner Lim. However, they are readily available from baby shops and some dentists.
5 yips for giving up a pacifier
If you feel it’s time for your child to give up her pacifier, here are five things you can try:
- Praise your child for not sucking her pacifier or thumb.
- Make her feel secure, so she doesn’t slip into old habits.
- Get your dentist or orthodontist to show your child what can happen if she doesn’t stop.
- Create a sticker chart to mark your child’s progress.
- Make sure the rest of your family backs you up.
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