As a parent, you may worry that prolonged use of a pacifier could alter the way that your baby’s teeth are aligned and how their mouth is formed. Read on to learn about how pacifiers can affect your child.
How Pacifiers Can Affect Oral Development
A child changes and grows at a rapid rate, so if they use a pacifier past two years old, their mouth can morph in certain ways around it. For example, their teeth can become crooked, the front teeth can jut outward and not come together properly when their mouth is closed, and the roof of their mouth can narrow. Too much pacifier use can also delay your child’s speech development.
In the long run, these dental changes can have serious impacts on your child’s smile and oral health. It’s possible they’ll end up needing speech therapy, or future orthodontic work to straighten out their teeth and to expand their palate.
So Is It OK to Use a Pacifier?
You don’t necessarily need to raise your baby without a pacifier just to avoid these possible dental-related effects. In fact, there’s no doubt that pacifiers offer babies comfort and even reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in children under one year old. The biggest thing you can do to protect your child from any negative consequences of pacifier use is to wean them off their pacifier around the time they turn two years old.
What About Thumbsucking?
Thumbsucking can affect a child’s teeth, mouth, and speech development in a similar way to using a pacifier. The difference is that many believe it’s easier to break a pacifier habit than a thumbsucking habit. If your baby self-soothes by sucking their thumb or fingers, let them. But help them find a different self-soothing technique around toddlerhood.
Consult with Our Team!
If you think your child is developing oral problems because of their pacifier or thumbsucking habit, contact our team at Tots to Teens Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics. We’re experts at children’s dental care and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.