The pacifier impact on teeth
The pacifier impact on teeth
When we normally introduce a pacifier to our newborn baby we do not think about their teeth. Instead, we want to care for our baby, to calm it down, and to secure its comfort.
Babies have from birth a natural sucking reflex, and the child will seek to satisfy this need from a pacifier, the mother's breast, thumb, or other. From a dental point of view is it better to provide a pacifier to prevent the baby from sucking on its thumb.
"One of the benefits of pacifiers is to prevent that the baby does not start sucking on the thumb. Concerning teeth and jaws, the pacifier is preferable. It is very difficult for the baby to stop using his or her thumb whereas a pacifier can be taken away from the baby much more easily". - Nina Nissen Falbert, Dentist
Another benefit of pacifiers (from a dental point of view) is that the use of pacifiers counteracts mouth breathing.
“Mouth breathing means that you frequently - both day and night - use your mouth to breathe instead of your nose. It is better to breathe through the nose, as it protects the mucous membranes, increases oxygen uptake, counteracts cavities in the teeth, and counteracts an altered jaw position due to the tongue’s resting position.” - Carina Løvstad, Dental Hygienist
“There are many different pacifiers on the market. Two of those are anatomical pacifiers and round pacifiers. The anatomical pacifier has a tongue side and a palate side and the purpose of this is to reduce misaligned bite and teeth when using the pacifier. However, the reality is that children turn the pacifier as they please without taking the design into account. So, when it comes to teeth, it really does not matter which pacifier your baby uses, as the teeth normally will align no matter the misalignment when the recommendations are followed and the child stops using the pacifier around the age of 3." - Nina Nissen Falbert, Dentist
There are no studies that confirm that one type of pacifier is better to others in relation to tooth alignment issues. Different pacifier nipples affect the teeth differently, but no pacifier nipple is better than others. Some advice is to choose a pacifier with a valve, as the valve causes the air to be pressed out of the nipple when the baby sucks on it. This helps the nipple to form naturally after the baby's mouth, tongue, and palate.
STOP IN TIME
As your baby grows and develops it is important to start considering teeth and gum impact.
“Many studies have shown that if your child stop using a pacifier before the age of three, the teeth’s position generally gets normalized without treatment later in life” - Nina Nissen Falbert, Dentist
It is important as with anything to wean your baby off their pacifier in small, gradual moments to adjust their mindset and get them used to live without it but still providing that comfort when it is needed at the toddler phase.
If it is not possible to wean the baby off the pacifier before the age of three, try to get the baby to use the pacifier as little as possible and with the least possible intensity.
It is important to remember that all children are different, and it is the long-term use of the pacifier that influences the alignment of the teeth. It will depend on how much they use it, for how long, and the intensity. You know your child best, and if you are in doubt, you should take the advice of your dentist.
Check out the video where dental hygienist Carina Løvstad explains how the use of pacifiers impact the teeth:
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