Pacifiers are a useful tool for soothing infants, and they’re actually preferable to thumb-sucking. However, when parents use them for a long time, they can negatively affect a child’s oral health. Here is an overview of some of the primary concerns about long-term pacifier use.
Extended pacifier use can interfere with the proper eruption of the teeth and even compromise the jaw’s alignment, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The front teeth may ultimately protrude too far out of the mouth, and this can throw off the positioning of the other teeth as they emerge.
If you have concerns about your child’s pacifier use, talk to a children’s dentist about when to break your child of the habit. Typically, it is not advised for a child to use a pacifier past age three. The dentist may also be able to give you pointers on how to go about getting rid of the pacifier. Many children will give up the pacifier on their own, but others will need a little extra encouragement to do so.
Additionally, you should talk to your children’s dentist about any potential increase in risk of tooth decay due to pacifiers. This is particularly likely when the pacifier is dipped in sugar or some other sweet substance. Similarly, when you lick the pacifier it exposes your child to the oral bacteria in your mouth, which can also raise the risk of decay. Use water to clean off a pacifier instead.
Your children’s dentist can also recommend other steps to protect your child’s oral health, such as regular brushing and flossing, and educate you on techniques that you can use in your child’s oral hygiene regimen.
Contact our team at Dental Depot if you feel that your child’s oral health may be affected by extended pacifier use. One of our knowledgeable dentists can treat the issues that can develop as a result of this habit in addition to talking to you about prevention.