Facial structures have evolved over time. This includes our jaws, mouth and airways. This is evident with wisdom teeth removals, tonsillectomies and adenoid removals. Did your grandparents or their parents need these procedures? Probably not. For the most part, our jaws just aren’t developing to fit all 32 human teeth. This may be caused by rubber nipples, sippy cups, baby food and allergies to food that can lead to breathing issues. These can all cause faces to develop differently, causing them to be less full and less symmetrical, with weaker profiles and receding chins. Is it possible then that pacifiers cause teeth problems?

Pacifiers & Crooked Teeth

Parents don’t really think about the shifts in facial development of their children. Good oral development happens when early sucking habits are stopped, good feeding and swallowing habits are established, strong chewing skills are developed and ensuring your child breathes through their nose. Pacifiers can become a problem when they affect the shape of the jaw as it develops. Pacifiers are beneficial to newborn babies because they have a strong urge to suckle. They are also helpful for babies that are having a hard time latching to breastfeed by developing oral muscles. Pacifiers have also been found to reduce the risk of SIDS. Problems linked to pacifiers depend on how long a child uses one. Dental development is affected when children use one for longer than 6 months. Using one for longer than six months also turns it into a source of comfort, which is not what is in intended for.

Pacifier Suckling vs. Sucking

Suckling is a reflex where the tongue moves front to back. The tongue is cupped to allow the baby to get more milk when they breastfeed. After two to six months, this reflex turns into a sucking movement. Sucking movement is actively controlled by the baby, with more of an up and down movement of the tongue. The best way for baby to transition from suckling to sucking is breastfeeding. It’s also the best way to prevent the constant need to use a pacifier.

Best Age for Taking Pacifier Away

The ideal time to take a pacifier away is when baby starts cooing and babbling. This usually happens at about five months of age. Cooing and babbling are indications that baby has control over their tongue and mouth and they have moved from suckling to sucking. This is also when your baby has started to teeth and you can swap out pacifiers for teething rings and other items that will soothe them.

Teeth Damage & Dental Problems Associated with Pacifier Use

If your child uses a pacifier past the age of two, there’s a higher chance of improper dental development, such as:
• Anterior open bite, where the front teeth do not come together
• Posterior crossbite, where the front teeth are in overbite, but the molars don’t fit in a side to side relation
• Narrow inter-molar width, which is the distance from molar to molar

Pediatric Dentistry

Stopping pacifier use at an early age can prevent dental issues. Are you concerned about your child’s teeth? Contact Smile Reef today to set up a consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!