Are you wondering if your child’s pacifier is ruining his or her teeth? There is some good news, according to pediatric dentists. Pacifier use has pros and cons. Infants have a natural sucking reflex. Providing them something to suck on helps them to feel comfortable and secure. Also, using a pacifier is not likely to cause damage to your child’s teeth within the first couple of years.

However, use beyond age four can lead to several different dental problems. These may include a narrowed palate (roof of the mouth), jaw issues, and misaligned teeth.  Many of these dental problems will result in early orthodontic intervention which can be expensive.

The pacifier and your child’s teeth

Pediatric dentist visits should start at an early age. Be sure to inform the dentist that your child uses a pacifier. The dentist will diligently track any developmental changes. In addition, the dentist can talk to your child about why it is important to give it up.

When it is time to stop pacifier use

Your child should stop using a pacifier around age two. It is even more critical by age four to six as baby teeth begin to fall out. Many children are ready to give up the beloved “binky” on their own around age three or four. If yours is hanging on to the habit, here are a few suggestions to consider:

  • Comfort sucking is often present with anxiety. Try to identify what causes worry in your child and always provide reassurance by giving extra hugs and kisses.
  • Consistently praise your child when he or she does not use it. Do not punish or scold when it is used. Stick with positive reinforcement.
  • Limit pacifier times. Start with allowing it only at home, or only for naps and night. Be consistent with these rules.
  • Anticipate times when your toddler will want his pacifier and provide a substitute.
  • Read more tips to say bye to the binky (via Baby Center)

Breaking your child’s sucking habit can be difficult, so talk to a pediatric dentist about your concerns. Pediatric dentists are experts on dental care for kids, and they want to help keep your child’s teeth beautiful.