Request Request Appointment Call Call Us Map Map Forms Complete our Forms Like Us Like us on Facebook Reviews Leave a Google Review Videos Watch our Videos Twitter Follow us on Twitter Photos View our Photos

Join Our Team

Request an Appointment

The Pros & Cons of Using Pacifiers

July 14, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — brushforkids @ 5:28 pm
a toddler using a pacifier

Thumb-sucking and pacifiers are two of the most common ways that children comfort themselves. From infancy to toddlerhood, these habits can soothe not just your baby’s nerves, but also your own by calming their crying. While there are plenty of developmental benefits pacifiers can offer, there are also some negatives, especially if they continue using them well into their toddler years. Read on to learn about some of the pros and cons non-nutritive habits can have on your little one’s development.

The Benefits of Pacifiers & Thumb-Sucking

There’s plenty of misinformation out there condemning any usage of pacifiers, but the truth is, this comfort action can help your child feel safe as well as offer other developmental benefits, such as:

  • Self-Soothing Tendencies: Pacifiers help your infant develop one of the most versatile tools that they’ll continue to use well into adulthood, which is the ability for them to self-soothe, or calm themselves.
  • Helping with Weaning: If your baby is nursing, pacifiers can help them have a smoother transition to a solid diet.
  • Reducing Risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome): The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents provide their infants with a pacifier before putting them down for bedtime to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Reduction in Preemie Discomfort: A study published out of Turkey in 2012 compared the progress of prematurely born babies who were in the NICU with and without pacifiers. They found that those who were given pacifiers experienced faster health progression and were generally able to go home sooner.

Dental Problems That Can Arise from Pacifier Usage

With so many benefits to offer, it’s not recommended to withhold pacifiers from your child. However, it is important to be mindful of when it’s time for them to stop using one. Children that suck their thumbs or use binkies for too long can experience a range of oral issues, including:

  • Bite Misalignment: One of the most common dental health problems that can arise from using a pacifier for too long is bite misalignment. As your child’s teeth begin to grow in, the constant force of sucking can alter their alignment, leading to bite problems, crowding, and other issues that may require extensive orthodontic intervention down the road.
  • Increased Risk of Cavities: The act of pacifier sucking itself may not directly lead to cavities, but if you attempt to soothe your child by giving them a pacifier soaked in sweet substances, the continuous exposure of sugar on their teeth and gums can likely result in decay.
  • Gum Recession: Excessive pacifier usage has been linked to gum recession, where the gums and supportive structures of the mouth erode.
  • Speech Impairment: Dental misalignment due to pacifier and thumb-sucking can also create avoidable speech problems, like lisps, difficulty pronouncing “s” sounds, and more.

When Should Your Child Stop Using a Pacifier?

The biggest takeaway is that while pacifier usage isn’t bad, using one for too long could result in an increased risk of your child developing dental problems. That leaves the question, how long is too long? It’s recommended to begin weaning infants off of pacifiers between 18 and 22 months. If you’re having a difficult time getting your child to stop, you can always consult with their pediatric dentist for tips and advice.

About the Practice

At Brush Pediatric Dentistry, our team is comprised of five skilled and compassionate pediatric dentists. Each of them has completed specialty residency programs focused on caring for developing smiles, allowing them to offer dentistry centered around infants, children, and teens. With ample experience under our team’s belt, our practice is able to offer a variety of treatments, like non-nutritive habit counseling, to help small smiles grow up to be happy and healthy. For questions or to schedule an appointment, visit our website or call 630-504-2223.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.