Your baby came along with lots of life-changing memories – from finding out you were expecting, to buying onesies and watching your husband paint the nursery, to actually ushering him into the world, your baby brought lots of good experiences with him. He also brought a lot of unexpected advice from your loved ones – right now, you’re weighing the risks of using a pacifier, and everybody has an opinion. But you want real facts from a professional you can trust. You may be thinking, ‘What dentist near me knows about how pacifiers can affect my child’s overall dental health?’ Luckily for you, the experts at Family Dental Practice of Bloomfield have heard your question and are here to give you the truth you need.
What Are The Pros Of Using A Pacifier?
Although you may think that these popular baby items are nothing but trouble, you might be surprised to learn that they can actually benefit your child when used properly.
- Prevent SIDS – If there’s a way to prevent the tragedy of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, you’d want to know. In babies from one to six months old, using a pacifier can help your baby learn to breathe properly and help them sleep deeper, reducing the risk of SIDS. It’s crucial, though, to not use a pacifier in a baby younger than one month old, since this can interfere with proper feeding.
- Comfort – Babies can easily become overwhelmed by the outside world as they develop. With sharp senses and a growing mind, they need to learn how to self-soothe, and the sucking reflex can be very important in teaching kids how to relax and cope. Both, pacifiers and thumbs work equally to help with calming your child – neither are preferable.
What Are The Cons Of Using A Pacifier?
Although pacifiers are common and useful in some instances, there are some negative outcomes from improper use to consider.
- Pacifier Teeth – When babies and young children suck their thumbs or pacifiers, the teeth, and hard palate can be compromised. In “pacifier teeth,” the roof of the mouth can become narrower, the front top and bottom teeth can slide out, the upper and lower jaws can be misaligned – causing the need for advanced dental and orthodontic treatment as they grow up. This condition generally occurs when children continue to suck their thumbs or us a pacifier after they are 6 months old or older.
- Tooth Decay – Since children are especially prone to tooth decay, remember that pacifiers (and fingers) can be full of bacteria and can cause damage to enamel. And, if you’re a parent who dips their child’s pacifier into a sweet drink or honey, you’re compounding the problem with the additional sugar.
How Can I Break The Pacifier Habit?
When your child approaches their six-month birthday, it’s time to focus on breaking the pacifier or thumb sucking habit. Try these strategies to with your child:
- Positive Reinforcement – Rather than scolding your son or daughter for using the pacifier or sucking their thumbs, praise them when they don’t behave this way. Give a reward like a gold star sticker or a small toy if they do well in tough times – like being away from mom and dad for an extended amount of time.
- Calm Anxious Kids – Since children often reach for their pacifiers or suck their thumbs when they’re anxious about something, try reducing the stress they’re feeling by comforting them. Address the underlying reason they’re anxious and watch the pacifier days fade away.
- Cover It Up – If your child switches to his thumb when the pacifiers are thrown out, you can try using a bandage on the digit or a sock over their hand as a way to discourage this habit, especially during sleep.
As always, work with the team at Family Dental Practice of Bloomfield to get the dental tips for parents that you need – from pacifiers to exams, they have decades of experience you can trust and are your choice for a family dentist in Bloomfield, CT. Schedule your appointment today!