Using a pacifier, or soother, for too long can lead to abnormal tooth development and dental issues in your baby's developing mouth. Here, our children's dentist explains the pros and cons of pacifiers.
Pacifiers, or soothers, can provide comfort and reassurance to young babies who need some extra comforting. Pacifiers can also be good for strengthening oral muscles and reflexes, in the early stages.
They can be beneficial to newborns with a strong urge to suckle, and may help babies who are struggling to latch for breastfeeding by improving their ability to suckle.
It is when a child is allowed to use a pacifier for too long that issues can arise, and the child's dental development can be affected.
Consistent, long-term pacifier use can change the shape of your child's mouth as well as the positioning of the teeth and jaw.
As babies and toddlers develop, their jaws grow around anything held inside the mouth on a regular basis. That's why long-term pacifier use can cause issues.
That said, pacifiers may still be beneficial for some younger babies. If you do decide to offer your child a pacifier, there are some steps you can take to help reduce the risks, such as restricting its use to times when your child needs to be soothed in order to fall asleep.
It's important for your toddler to give up the pacifier for the sake of their developing teeth. A good rule of thumb is to gently wean your child off the pacifier by the age of two, in order to prevent dental issues.