What is the effect of pacifiers on my child's teeth?
-Francis (Baguio City, Philippines)
It is completely normal for babies to want to suck - it is a behavior that is part of human nature at a young age.
Sucking has a soothing effect for most infants. Because of this, many parents often find pacifiers very helpful to soothe a fussy baby, satisfy a hungry baby
long enough for you to get their food ready, and help your baby get to sleep. Please do not dip the pacifier in anything sweet like sugar, syrup, honey or chocolate sauce.
Despite the benefits, parents often worry that pacifiers can cause damage to their child’s developing teeth and jaws. During the first few years of life, pacifier use is unlikely to cause any long term dental problems. Since most children give up the pacifier between ages 2 and 3 years old, they are unlikely to experience any problems. However, for those children who do not give up the pacifier or other sucking behaviors such as thumb sucking during the preschool period, problems may develop.
Using a pacifier once a child’s permanent teeth begin to come in around age 5 years of age can cause the teeth to slant outwards. It can even cause the jaws to become misaligned, causing a need for expensive orthodontic treatment (braces) in the future. Because of this, it is recommended that you wean your child from the pacifier no later than age 2 or 3 years of age.