Long debated in pediatric dentistry and amongst other health and dental professionals, the use of a pacifier can have a profound impact on children’s oral development and health. A pacifier is typically a one-piece device that provides non-nutritive sucking for babies as a means of comfort when not nursing or using a bottle.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that families see a children’s dentist as soon as the baby teeth start coming in, and the first checkup should occur by the child’s first birthday. This helps reduce risk of developmental problems involving the teeth and jaw structure by allowing the children’s dentist to catch early signs of possible trouble. The dentist can also instruct parents on proper oral health habits that are appropriate for the child’s age, as well as provide guidance for possible problem-causing behaviors including pacifier use and thumb sucking.
Parents that choose to offer a pacifier should ensure the pacifier is cleaned every time they offer it to a child. The pacifier should not be dipped or coated in anything other than water. Coating the pacifier in a sweet solution can promote the development of bacteria in the mouth, setting the stage for cavities to develop early and causing damage to baby teeth, which can affect the jawbones and adult teeth depending on the severity of the case.
Pacifier use can often lead to thumb sucking behaviors as the child is weaned from the pacifier. The AAPD recommends consulting a children’s dentist about mouthpiece options if the thumb sucking and/or pacifier use continues to age three. This can create problems for the bones and adult teeth as the child continues growing if not addressed early.
For more information on caring for children’s teeth and oral health throughout children’s developmental stages, contact our caring team at Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry today!