Pacifiers can come in handy when you want to soothe a cranky baby. But, at the same time many parents worry about its long-term effects on baby’s dental structure and oral health. While prolonged usage of pacifiers can cause tooth decay and misalignment of baby’s teeth, problems occur only when they’re used incorrectly.
Positives of a Pacifier
· It goes without saying that pacifiers are great comforters. To calm a crying baby, pop in a pacifier.
· Research also shows that pacifiers decrease the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Experts say that babies who suck pacifiers don’t sleep peacefully, so they’re less susceptible to SIDS.
· Pacifiers are a better option than thumb sucking. It’s easier to wean a child from a pacifier than breaking the thumb-sucking habit. Excessive thumb-sucking can also lead to problems in teeth development.
What harm can pacifiers do to the teeth?
· Pacifiers can ruin baby’s dental structure and alignment with prolonged usage.
· Parents are often responsible for passing on bacteria to the baby. Incorrect usage and improper pacifier care can cause tooth decay.
· Dipping the pacifier in sugar syrup or honey, can also lead to tooth decay
· Prolonged use of pacifier can result in crooked teeth, gap inbetwee the upper and lower teeth causing bite problems, and protruding upper teeth
What steps can you take to prevent negative effects of the pacifier?
By choosing the right pacifier and caring for it properly, can keep your baby safe from the adverse effects of the pacifier.
Simple tips to choose the pacifier
Pacifiers come is varied shapes, size, designs and colours. When you go looking for one, it’s important that you choose the right one for your baby. Here are basic things to consider when buying one:
· Pacifiers come in two sizes, one meant for babies under six months and another for babies older than six months. So make sure to choose according to your baby’s age
· Nipples come in two variants – latex and silicone. Both have their pros and cons
o Latex nipples are flexible and softer. However they don’t last long. In case your baby has latex allergy, you should avoid buying this
o Silicone nipples on the other are firmer and durable. They’re also a lot easier to clean. They don’t retain odours too. But on the flip side, the baby may find it hard to suck as they not soft
· Shields – this is another important thing to keep in mind when choosing the pacifier. The shield should be big enough to cover the baby’s mouth. The shield should also have holes in them that allow circulation. Without the holes, the babies saliva can accumulate on the base of the shield and cause skin irritation.
Pacifier Care and Safety Tips
By taking proper care and safety measures, you can reduce the risks of oral cavities and prevent accidents
· Never give pacifier to a sleeping baby
· Do not tie pacifier using string/ribbons. The chances of strangulation are high
· Discard pacifiers if: discoloured, cracked, torn or sticky after prolonged use
· Make sure you are using an age-specific pacifier. A pacifier meant for toddlers should not be given to infants and vice versa
· Never leave baby alone with a pacifier in his mouth
· Never dip the pacifier in honey or any other sugary substances. It’s bad for baby’s gums and teeth
· Always ensure that the shield is bigger than baby’s mouth
· Clean the pacifier daily with soap and warm water and rinse thoroughly.