Oral Health and Pacifier use for Kids
Pacifiers can be great for children, especially early in their infant years. They provide a calming effect, and in addition to that, they can help decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrom (SIDS). Pacifier use is generally a healthy habit within the first couple of years of life, however continued and improper use may ultimately have a negative impact on your child’s oral health.
Tips for Correct Pacifier use:
- Clean them regularly (atleast once a day). This will prevent colonization by bacterial organisms which can cause infections. Pacifiers that are dishwasher safe can be cleaned easiliy in the dishwasher as well.
- Check for cracks, discoloration, or tears in the rubber. Discard appropriately if necessary.
- DO NOT tie pacifiers around the child’s neck
- Offer pacifiers after and between meals, before naps and before bedtime.
- Replace old pacifiers and wash prior to first use
Potential Pacifier problems:
Research shows that continued pacifier use after age 2 can be associated with the following:
- Increased risk of middle ear infection
- Misalignment of teeth
- Dental crossbite and/or open bite
- Develpment of a thumb sucking or a tongue thrusting habit
Pacifier use is typically acceptable after the infant is about 1 month old and has had sufficient time to develp a healthy breast-feeding habit. Experts still recommend that children stop using pacifier after age 2, since that’s when it becomes a habit rather than a developmental need.
Saying Good-Bye to the pacifier:
For some infants, giving up pacifier use may be difficult especially if they’re emotionally attached which is why it’s important to start the weaning off process soon after they turn 1 so they can let go before they turn 2. Parents looking to wean their kids off pacifier use can begin by using alternative techniques including:
- Rocking motions, singing or music before naps or at bedtime
- Activities and games
- Limit pacifier use slowly over time
- Try to dip the pacifier into safe but undesirable tasting flavor such as white vinegar
As always, contact your dental care provider with any questions or concerns. Here at Round Lake Family Dentistry, we offer a complimentary oral evaluation for kids under the age of 2 as we believe stronly in establishing a dental home for kids at an early age. Call us with any questions or concerns at (847)740-0217 . And don’t forget to Keep Smililng……..