Written on March 31, 2014, by North Creek Dental Care
Since the 1600′s, parents around the world have used pacifiers to relax a child by satisfying the sucking reflex. The original intent was to calm the child during non-feeding periods and to help them fall asleep. Pacifiers are also encouraged to replace thumb sucking because it is a device that can be taken away from a child as they get older.
There are a few concerns to keep in mind when using a pacifier with children. Research suggests that there is a correlation between pacifier use and delayed breastfeeding success. To avoid “nipple confusion” it is recommended to begin introducing a pacifier after the child has become accustomed to breastfeeding.
At what age should children stop using a pacifier? Research from the Journal of Pediatric Nursing suggests that no permanent damage is made to the mouth if a child discontinues pacifier use before 36 months of age. Long-term use can result in damaging effects during tooth development. Additionally long-term pacifier use is linked with speech-impairing malformations of the mouth.
A psychologist recommended technique has been proven effective to help a child separate from their pacifier. The method involves explaining to the child several days in advance that a day has been set for all pacifiers to be thrown away. Giving this advanced notice gives the child more control over the situation and helps them to understand that it is a part of growing up. On this day, all pacifiers must leave the house to avoid a child falling back into their old habits.
To set the stage for a healthy smile, pacifier use should be discontinued by a child’s third birthday. If you have questions about how a pacifier could be affecting your child’s smile, talk with your dentist today.
Related Article: How Long Should a Baby Use a Pacifier?