Ask a Dentist: Is It Okay to Give a Baby a Pacifier?
At California Dental Group, we’re proud to serve the entire family. As a result, we often have parents asking us questions about how to encourage healthy habits – and we even have some parents wondering how to protect their infant’s teeth. Often this comes down to a single question: Is it okay to give a baby a pacifier? As it turns out, the answer is not a simple yes or no.
Consider what the Academy of General Dentistry has to say about it
The Academy of General Dentistry, otherwise known as AGD, says that there are both pros and cons when it comes to babies using pacifiers. First of all, pacifiers can comfort infants. They’ve also been shown to reduce the chances of sudden infant death syndrome. Why? Because pacifiers actually keep babies from sleeping as deeply as those who don’t have pacifiers. As a result, it’s easier for them to wake up if they fall into a deep sleep that causes them to stop breathing.
Of course, there are downsides too. First, the AGD points to the fact that pacifiers can actually prevent the gums and teeth from developing correctly. In fact, if a baby uses a pacifier regularly and for an extended period of time, it can change the shape of the roof of their mouth. This can then lead to the reset of the mouth not growing correctly, which can eventually lead to teeth being misaligned. Of course, most tooth misalignment can be treated with Invisalign.
How to reduce the possibility of harm from a pacifier
If you do decide to allow your infant to use a pacifier, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the possibility of harm. First, only let them use the pacifier when they’re trying to fall asleep. This gives them the comfort they want, plus it helps reduce the chance of SIDS as described above, but it will be used less frequently which can help reduce the downsides.
Next, choose a pacifier that has ventilation holes in the shield so that your child can still breath in the event the pacifier is swallowed and lodged in your child’s throat. Finally, make sure you clean it before it’s used so that it stays as clean as possible.
How to break a pacifier habit
If your child is used to a pacifier and you decide to put an end to it, we have a few tips. Note that the AGD recommends that kids older than two should not be using pacifiers. First, dip the pacifier in white vinegar so that your child doesn’t like the taste on it. You can also pierce the pacifier so that it doesn’t provide the satisfaction of good suction.
Remember that if you decide to get rid of your pacifier, it should be thrown away and never reused. If you have other questions about the oral health of your children, reach out to a California family dentist who can help.