Pacifier Pow Wow

Pacifier Pow Wow
Posted on 01/19/2018

Baby sucking on pink pacifier

At Yummy Dental & Orthodontics for Kids, we're proud to help children throughout the Chicago, Glenview, and the surrounding areas develop beautiful, healthy smiles. But in addition to providing expert pediatric dental care, we also strive to serve as a resource for every part of your child's dental development. One of the first questions that any parent encounters with their child's dental health is how to use a pacifier – so to help you navigate this important part of early parenting, here's a quick guide on the uses, pros, and cons of pacifiers.


What Do Pacifiers Do?

Pacifiers enable the sucking response in infants, a natural instinct that often calms and soothes an upset baby. Some infants may only want to suckle during feeding, but others seem to want to suck on something just about all the time – and pacifiers can help placate them in that situation. Pacifiers are a trusted tool for many parents, helping to stem crying and in some cases helping children get to sleep. However, while pacifiers come with plenty of benefits, there are some reasons to think twice before popping a binkie in your baby's mouth.


The Pros and Cons of Pacifiers

Undoubtedly, pacifiers have a lot of advantages. Some of the biggest benefits of pacifiers include:

  • Soothing: Can help calm a crying infant, and may help some infants fall asleep.
  • Preterm Weight Gain: Some studies have found that using a pacifier can help preterm babies gain weight, supporting healthy development.
  • Reduces Risk of SIDS: While the causes aren't understood, research has found a link between pacifier use and a reduction in the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

However, pacifiers also come with disadvantages – so before resorting to a pacifier at all times, consider a few of the downsides:

  • Increased Ear Infections: Sucking on a pacifier can increase the collection of fluids in the ears, which can increase the likelihood of an ear infection. Research has shown that pacifier use does raise the risk of ear infections for infants.
  • Dental Development Problems: While the use of pacifier by an infant won't harm teeth, if a child continues to suck on a pacifier past age 2 or suck their thumb past age 4, this behavior can interfere with the development of teeth. Prolonged pacifier or thumb sucking can lead to a variety of dental problems like open bite, necessitating orthodontic treatment later on.
  • Breastfeeding Issues: While the research isn't clear, pacifier use may interfere with normal breastfeeding. If you have any issues with breastfeeding your baby, it may be best to lay off of using a pacifier.

Contact Your Chicago & Glenview Pediatric Dentists

While there are potential risks, overall, a pacifier can be a healthy, helpful tool for comforting most infants when used responsibly. If you still have questions about pacifiers or your child's dental development in general, Yummy Dental & Orthodontics for Kids is here to help. Reach out to us at our contact page with any questions, or use our easy online form to request an appointment right from our website. We look forward to hearing from you, and we wish you luck in making good use of a pacifier with your child!