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Teeth: How They Develop
Have you ever wondered if using a pacifier can harm your little one’s oral health? While pacifiers can help infants and toddlers self-soothe and relax, prolonging their use can lead to a condition known as “pacifier teeth.” So how can you enjoy the benefits of a pacifier while safeguarding your child’s smile?
Pacifiers and Your Newborn
Sucking is a normal instinct for babies, and a pacifier can help soothe, comfort, calm, and relax your little one, especially during the first six months of life. The benefits of pacifiers don’t stop here. Many parents do not realize that pacifier use lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, reduces hospital stays for prematurely born infants, and can even help provide pain relief during medical procedures.
What Are Pacifier Teeth and How Do They Develop?
A baby’s mouth and teeth form in the womb and continue to develop throughout childhood. Anything infants or toddlers hold in their mouths for long periods during this critical time of growth can affect their dental health and development.
The term “Pacifier teeth” refers to a condition resulting from prolonged pacifier use. It is characterized by various complications, including tilting, protruding, crooked, shifted, or uneven teeth, problems with the bite and jaw alignment, and changes in the roof of the mouth. Long-term thumb sucking can impact your child’s oral health in the same way as prolonged pacifier use. The good news is that alignment problems with the teeth and developing bone can be corrected within about six months if pacifier use stops by the age of two.
Putting the Pacifier Away
The best way to prevent pacifier teeth is to start weaning your child off the pacifier around six months old and no later than age two. But how do you do that? There are many ways to help your little one, and it’s going to take some experimenting to see what works best. To start with, provide plenty of positive reinforcement, and make sure to praise your little one’s efforts. Don’t forget to offer a small reward for every success.
It helps to establish a few “pacifier-free” times, starting with 30 minutes and adding a few minutes each day. Avoid stressful situations if at all possible, and be ready to shower your child with plenty of hugs and cuddles. Never resort to punishment for wanting to use the pacifier.
Choose your timing carefully. Don’t choose a time when you’re experiencing significant life changes, such as welcoming a new sibling or moving to a new home. While some setbacks and discouraging moments should be expected, stay consistent and positive. When it’s time to say goodbye to the pacifier, make sure you prepare a fitting celebration for the remarkable milestone!
Quality Pediatric Dentistry in Phoenix, AZ
Visit Jet Set Smiles Pediatric Dentistry for more tips and advice on safe pacifier use. We encourage you to maintain your child’s routine dental visits as soon as the first tooth emerges and no later than age one. That way, you’ll establish healthy habits for healthy smiles right off the start. Call us and schedule your appointment today!