As a new parent, you may be concerned about letting your baby use a pacifier. There are many opinions regarding pacifier use – and new parents especially wonder if they should let their baby use one.
Sucking is a natural reflex for babies – even in the womb, and many times pacifiers are used to help a baby through a fussy period.
A pacifier can soothe a fussy baby with a strong suckling desire. Some babies want to suck even when they aren’t hungry. The pros and cons of using a pacifier have been discussed for decades, and there have been disagreements whether they should be used at all. The choice – of course, is up to the parents.
As with any question you have about your baby’s care, it is always best to consult a professional. When you tell your pediatric dentist that you are thinking about giving your baby a pacifier, chances are he or she will advise you to limit its use to only your baby’s first year of life, and use it sparingly.
The Problems Pacifiers Can Create
There has been much debate on the use of pacifiers – but most dentists agree that long-term sucking on a pacifier can cause serious dental problems - especially when the child continues to use one as he or she gets older. There are many negative effects of prolonged pacifier use.
- Bottom teeth tilt in
- Slanted top front teeth
- Narrowing of the roof of the mouth (side to side)
- Misalignment of the upper and lower jaws
These issues can lead to significant dental and oral health problems for the child as he or she grows older.
If You Decide To Let Your Baby Use A Pacifier
There are many decisions you will make as a parent, starting even before birth. If you do decide to let your baby use a pacifier, there are basic guidelines that will help your infant get off to a good start with their oral health.
- Restrict pacifier use to when the baby is falling asleep.
- Limit pacifier use to the first year.
Ask your pediatric dentist what type of pacifier is best for the health of your child.
Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy
If you have cavities yourself, try to take special care not to share your mouth’s bacteria with your child. Your bacteria, when passed on to your child, can lead to early dental cavities. This can happen in many ways – such as tasting the child’s food with the same spoon that you use to feed him or her, or letting your baby put their fingers in your mouth.
Since many of your child’s baby teeth need to last until they are teenagers – it is important to keep baby teeth as healthy as possible. You can get your baby’s oral health off to a good start right after birth by wiping your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth or gauze pad after each feeding.
This will help keep the gums healthy and promote the growth of healthy baby teeth. As your child grows, healthy eating and teaching your child how to brush and floss on a regular basis will contribute to his or her lifetime of good oral care and health.
Your pediatric dentist will give you the best advice regarding pacifier use. Your baby’s first visit to the pediatric dentist should be when the first tooth appears – or no later than one year of age. Starting your child out with good oral care will lead to a lifetime of good oral habits and healthy mouth and teeth.