Did you know that pacifier use can reduce the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)? This is so because babies are less likely to sleep deeply with a pacifier, so they’re more easily awakened, but the probability of SIDS is very minimal. That said, do pacifiers affect teeth? Are they worth it?
Teeth damage from a pacifier is unlikely to affect a child’s teeth up to toddlerhood to an extent that will require corrective measures such as braces or other forms of orthodontics.
Prolonged pacifier use past the age of 4 — when adult teeth start coming through — may have certain drawbacks such as:
- Open bite: A misalignment, or malocclusion, in which the teeth are angled outward and may not completely touch. Large spaces or gaps between the front teeth also result. This could lead to permanent teeth damage, say if a child were to fall and the impact makes their bottom teeth push against their top teeth, causing teeth fractures or possibly knocking them out.
- Overbite: Similar to an open bite but with the teeth directed outward. Here, the top teeth cover the bottom teeth far more extremely.
- Buck teeth: In some cases, buck teeth, or jutting front teeth, are hereditary, though this type of teeth damage from a pacifier can also occur.
- Changes to the roof of the mouth: Can cause a pronounced arch in the front teeth or a narrowing or general misshaping of the roof of the mouth.
- Pacifiers can prevent proper growth and development of the mouth and teeth.
- Pacifiers can contribute to the misalignment of the upper and lower jaws, which makes teeth vulnerable to damage.
- Pacifiers can increase the risk of acute middle ear (the space behind the eardrum) infections.
Always consider safety options first. Keep your baby safe with these useful tips:
- Restrict pacifier use as much as possible.
- Clean and change the pacifier regularly.
- Avoid attaching a pacifier to your baby’s clothes, as this can be a potential choking hazard.
- Don’t dip pacifiers in honey or syrup before giving them to your baby, as this can cause cavities.
- Opt for a pacifier with ventilation holes, allowing the passage of air.
- Check recommended age ranges for the right size.
- Speak to a pediatric dentist about orthodontic pacifiers and whether teeth damage from a pacifier will be less risky.
- Gently wean your baby from the pacifier at an appropriate age. Speak to a pediatric dentist for mouth appliance recommendations to help break the habit.
Are Pacifiers Going to Affect Your Child’s Teeth?
Any potential damage detected before 24 months of age can often correct itself within 6 months from when your child is weaned. Orthodontic treatment, however, may be necessary for children older than 24 months who exhibit signs of teeth damage from a pacifier — more so in those 4 years and older.
Our Advice to You
For most parents, abnormally formed teeth in babies and toddlers from pacifiers don’t have to be a significant worry. Should pacifier use continue after age 4, contact us to keep an eye on your child’s jaw and facial development. Children’s Dentistry specializes in dental anesthesiology, pediatric dentistry, and orthodontics for your family.