Through extensive education and advanced technology, pediatric dentists recognize the risks associated with pacifiers. Parents have long depended on “binkies” as a way of keeping a child calm. Pacifiers prevent crying in public, help with the teething process and encourage sleep. Therefore, they have become a lifesaver for many moms and dads. However, in speaking with your child’s pediatric dentist, they will likely discourage this practice.

What parents should know about pacifiers

When it comes to pacifiers, parents can now choose from hundreds of different sizes, shapes, styles and colors. Some pacifiers feature a parent’s favorite sports team, the infant’s name or a cool design. However, while binkies might seem harmless, there are some genuine concerns.

No matter how well-made a pacifier is, a pediatric dentist will likely discourage its use. The primary concern has to do with oral health. Similar to a baby who sucks on a bottle, using a pacifier can cause an array of problems. Not only can this affect the teeth but also the jaw and muscle formation. Following are some key factors to think about before going the pacifier route.

1. Malocclusion

Malocclusion is a big risk. With this, a child has improperly aligned teeth when they close their mouth. Although this impacts small infants, it becomes increasingly more evident in children who use pacifiers after the age of three. If not corrected, a child can develop a variety of dental health issues. This can affect both chewing and speech.

2. Infections

Sucking on a pacifier can also lead to an infection of the mouth. If parents do not properly clean and sterilize the pacifier, it can become colonized with Candida and other bacterial organisms. Of the greatest concern is the use of latex to make the pacifiers. Even when parents go through the process of cleaning and sterilizing, there is still some degree of risk.

3. Otitis media

While this one might sound strange, babies who use pacifiers are at a greater risk for developing otitis media. This means reflux of secretions that go into the middle ear. In fact, if a child experiences an altered dental structure, there is a chance for the Eustachian tube to become dysfunctional. As a pediatric dentist explained, parents should not give a pacifier to a baby in order to prevent otitis media.

4. Weaning

A fascinating and controversial topic has to do with pacifiers making it difficult to wean off a baby from breast milk. Some mothers turn to a pacifier as a way of making the transition easy. However, it does not appear that it helps much. Many mothers believe giving babies a pacifier only makes them more agitated rather than calming them down.

Listen to the pediatric dentist

For pacifiers, as well as bottles, it is always advisable to listen to your pediatric dentist’s suggestions. As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to give your child a great start in life. That means keeping them physically and mentally healthy, including their teeth. Therefore, consider the risks of pacifier use and talk to your pediatrician and dentist first.

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