Can a Pacifier Affect My Child’s Teeth?

Can a Pacifier Affect My Child’s Teeth?
Posted on 01/16/2018

While pacifiers are very comforting to babies, many parents are concerned about how pacifiers can affect their children’s teeth. Our Lynnwood pediatric dentist would like concerned parents to know that problems linked to pacifiers like tooth decay and improper growth of young mouths and teeth only occur when pacifiers are used incorrectly.

Benefits of a Pacifier

Pacifiers provide some great benefits during the first year of a child’s life. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), providing pacifiers to infants one month or older at the onset of sleep reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Babies that use pacifiers can soothe themselves and satisfy the natural need to suck. Many studies tell us that pacifier use is better than thumb-sucking because it’s much easier to wean from a pacifier than a child’s own thumb.

How Pacifiers Can Affect the Teeth

Even though that binky seems to have a magical effect on your child, it’s important to remember that pacifiers do come with some downsides. If you were to put a pacifier in your child’s mouth that you had just removed from your own mouth, you can pass bacteria directly to your child via the pacifier. This would put your child’s oral health at risk including those tiny little teeth that are slowly pushing through the gums. Another way pacifier use can lead to problems like tooth decay is if you dip the pacifier in something sugary like honey, before giving it to your child.
When children use pacifiers well into the toddler years, several problems can occur with the mouth including:

- Crooked teeth
- Misplaced teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Improper bite
- Upper teeth that tip forward

So when is it time to say bye-bye to the binky? Dr. Worton recommends limiting pacifier time once your child is two and eliminating it by the age of four to avoid dental problems.

Choosing a Pacifier

With a wide array of pacifiers for sale, it can be downright confusing to choose the right type for your child. To keep things simple, you should choose a one-piece pacifier that has a sealed (rather than open) base, no moving parts, and a nipple made of silicon that will harbor fewer germs than latex or soft plastic.

Questions? Contact Lynnwood Children’s Dentistry!

Dr. Worton and his friendly team are always available to speak with you so please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about pacifier use or your child’s developing teeth. And remember to bring your child in for his or her first dental visit when you see the first tooth emerging from the gums, which is usually around the age of one. This early visit with Dr. Worton will get your child off to a great start toward a lifetime of healthy and happy smiles!