Many parents don’t realize that babies derive comfort from non-nutritive sucking. It’s been shown that some babies begin to self-soothe by sucking on their fingers or thumbs even before birth. By allowing your child a pacifier, you may be able to more easily break the habit as the child reaches an age where this self-soothing behavior is no longer needed, by removing or cutting the pacifier. If a child learns to self-soothe by thumb sucking, it may be more difficult to break this habit.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, If your child is still using a pacifier at the age of 3, the habit should be discouraged. This is because the upper front teeth may tip outward or come in improperly as a result. If you’re unsure if your child’s pacifier or thumb-sucking habit is interfering with the healthy development of teeth and jaws, please contact us. We’re happy to advise you with behavior modification techniques.
Here are a few additional guidelines for pacifier use:
- Never dip the pacifier into a sweet substance such as honey.
- Do not use a string, ribbon or cord to secure the pacifier to clothes or cribs.
- The pacifier shield should be larger than the child’s mouth.
- Discontinue use if the pacifier fits into the child’s mouth.
- Discard pacifiers that are worn or deteriorating
- Do not allow the child to sleep with the pacifier.
Remember, the AAPD recommends your child’s first visit with a pediatric dentist by the age of 1 or with the eruption of the first tooth. If you’ve yet to find your dental home, we welcome you to become a part of our dental family.