So you heard the term “pacifier teeth”? I first heard it when someone mentioned it on an Instagram post of an Influencer showing her child smiling and I really had no idea what it even meant. If you’re in the same boat, let me tell you what I learned. What is known as pacifier teeth is the result of extended pacifier use, which can lead to changes in the shape and alignment of a child’s teeth and jaws. Pacifier teeth can cause the front baby teeth to become pushed out and the upper jaw to become narrowed. Additionally, the prolonged use of pacifiers can lead to an open bite, where the front teeth do not meet properly when the child bites down.
Are pacifiers bad for teeth?
It’s important to keep in mind that pacifier use is not necessarily a bad thing, as pacifiers can have a soothing effect on babies and can help them sleep. However, it’s important to use them responsibly and in moderation to minimize the risk of pacifier teeth.
How to prevent pacifier teeth?
Really, the question might be when to stop pacifier use? To prevent developing pacifier teeth, it is recommended to limit using a pacifier to the first 2 years of life and to encourage children to give up pacifiers on their own before the permanent teeth come in. Using them longer through ages 3 and even 4 cause dental problems.
You should know that yes, thumb sucking can lead to the same dental issues and “pacifier teeth” damage as prolonged pacifier use when done over an extended period. When thinking of your child’s oral health, you need to take these things into consideration to prevent teeth misalignment and crooked teeth. The sucking behavior is comforting for your child but you might need to try to get them to stop eventually.
How to get rid of pacifier?
If you need some tips on how to wean your child off pacifiers, you should know this is very common. For many parents, the pacifier habit can be a challenging habit to break if your child loves pacifiers. Some children have no problem with it while others might need more time and patience.
- Gradual withdrawal: Gradually decrease the amount of time the child is allowed to use the pacifier, until it is no longer needed. Distractions are great to try to keep your child’s mind off it.
- Substitute: Give the child a substitute item to hold or suck on, such as a stuffed animal or a blankie. This is great because a plushy can also have a great self soothing effect on your little one and it can help them be calm and fall asleep. There is even weighted plushies if your child is older and wants to hold one on their lap kind of like weighted blankets for adults.
- Positive reinforcement: Reward the child for going without the pacifier for set periods of time. This could be very simple little things as well as just giving praise or saying how great it is they are doing well without it
- Make it disappear: Make your child’s pacifier disappear, such as giving them away or throwing them out. This can be done with a positive message such as a “big boy/girl” or ” you don’t need it anymore”. This might not always work and you might need to judge for yourself how your child reacts to this.
Can you fix pacifier teeth?
You might also be asking yourself “do pacifier teeth correct themselves?”. While it is best to watch out for your baby’s teeth before noticing misaligned teeth, there are options to go to a pediatric dentist. You could also ask for an orthodontic pacifier with a flat nipple to replace the usual ones with for the time being.
Your dentist might also refer you to a pediatric orthodontist to help get the teeth fixed.
If you suspect or are worried about your child’s teeth, please reach out to a professional to get an opinion to really avoid future dental issues.