A First Time Parent's Guide To The Risks And Benefits Of Pacifiers

30 December 2014
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


From colic and constipation to diaper rash and teething, from the minute your precious newborn comes home, there always seems to be a new experience, disaster and reason for your little one to cry. In an effort to enjoy a few moments of peace, you've decided to soothe your baby with a pacifier. You've heard many strong opinions on the subject – some good, some bad – but want to decide if utilizing a pacifier is right for your little one. Don't be swayed by what your mother, friends and family think and instead, learn as much as you can about the pros and cons of pacifiers:

Pacifiers and Your Toddler's Teeth

You've been considering purchasing an array of pacifiers, but there is one nagging issue that is preventing you from taking this step: the thought of your child's mangled teeth and misaligned jaw.

Many parents have mistakenly believed that providing their infant with a pacifier can have a damaging impact on their developing teeth. However, according to WebMD, this isn't entirely true.

According to Dr. Evelina Weidman Sterling, a contributor to WebMD, as long as your little one gives up the pacifier by age two or three, there shouldn't be any permanent damage. This is because your little one's developing jaw means that any potential damage that could occur generally disappears within six months after giving up the pacifier.

However, after age two or three, the sucking motion of the pacifier can begin to affect how your growing toddler's teeth and jaw line grow. The longer you allow your toddler to use a pacifier, the more likely they are to develop dental issues as they age.

According to the Journal of American Dental Association, two of the most noticeable issues, protruding teeth and a crossbite, are just two of the problems that can negatively affect your toddler's baby and adult teeth, if you allow them to use the pacifier after age two to three.

If your toddler is unwilling to part with their beloved pacifier, and many are, your doctor and dentist from a place like Dentistry For Children & Adolescents will have a few tips and tricks to help ensure your uncooperative little one gives up this habit!

For example, only provide your toddler with their pacifier at during naps and at bedtime. Storing the pacifiers near their bed and making sure to grab the pacifier once your little one wakes up and keeping it out of sight can also help!

Pacifiers and SIDS

An acronym for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS is the leading cause of death amongst babies under 12 months of age, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the reason many parents lose sleep.

In an effort to combat this silent killer, many parents have followed their pediatrician's advice very closely, including placing their baby down on their back during naps and bedtime. However, according to What to Expect, there is another simple way you can help lower your baby's risk of SIDS: a pacifier.

Several studies have found that giving your baby a pacifier at night can reduce their risk of SIDS dramatically. It's believed that when a baby sucks on a pacifier, it inhibits their ability to fall deeply asleep.

Once your baby turns one, their risk of SIDS is minimal, which means you can begin weaning them before any dental problems arise.

When it comes to your decision whether or not to use pacifiers, it's vital to weigh the pros and cons before determining what is right for your baby and family. In the end, however, your baby will probably make the decision for you. If they are calmed by the pacifier, go ahead and enjoy the peace and quiet, at least that is until those pesky toddler years!