Is your toddler hooked to his or her pacifier? While babies instinctively suck, toddlers and young children can, and should, give up their pacifiers to avoid dental problems. At Children's Dental Center of New Hampshire, Dr. James McAveeney and Dr. Andrew Cheifetz teach Amherst parents the benefits and the downsides of pacifiers so they foster good dental health and overall well-being in their kids.
Why do babies need to suck?
Ultrasound imaging of pre-born infants show them sucking their thumbs. Then, after birth, sucking provides for their nutritional and comfort needs. Little ones suck their thumbs or pacifiers when they are tired, feel stressed around strangers or just need soothing to calm themselves.
Can pacifiers in Amherst harm kids?
In relation to dental health, pacifiers seem preferable to thumb sucking, says the American Dental Association (ADA) because pacifiers are easier for children to give up. Both, however, can cause substantial problems when used beyond the age of two.
Potential problems include:
- Malformation of the oral cavity--specifically, the roof of the mouth
- Misalignment of baby teeth
- Bite issues such as open bite where the top and bottom front teeth do not close together
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) reports that any oral health issues easily correct themselves if a child is weaned off a pacifier by the age of two. The ADA adds that both pacifiers and thumb sucking should be eliminated when the baby teeth begin to erupt.
What's a parent to do?
Plan on weaning the child off pacifiers as early as possible. Limit the time used to bed time or times of extreme fussiness. Do not scold or punish when a toddler uses his or her pacifier, but rather, use praise as a motivation.
Also, ask your professional dental team for tips on how to help little ones kick the pacifier habit. Dr. McAveeney and Dr. Cheifetz can help you and your child through this transition.
If it's time for your youngster's routine check-up and cleaning, please call Children's Dental Center of New Hampshire for an appointment. We'll be happy to discuss pacifier use with you or any other concern you have regarding your child's oral health and development. Call us at (603) 673-1000.