Whether you are a first-time parent or one who is welcoming your second or third child, finding the right soother for your child can take time. Maybe you like the idea of your child growing up attached to a favorite stuffed toy or blanket, or maybe you prefer to soothe their tears with a calming pacifier. While the latter can pose more serious problems with your child’s oral health if used for too long, a dentist for kids in McKinney explains what to consider when choosing the right pacifier and why it’s important to cease this non-nutritive habit before it negatively impacts their developing smile.
PACIFIER 101: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
With so many pacifiers on the market, it’s difficult to determine which one will be right for your child. Before buying one of each, you’ll want to be intentional about the kind you purchase. A kid’s dentist in McKinney recommends that you consider these four things:
- The Type of Nipple: You can opt for a rounded or orthodontic nipple. The former looks similar to a ball while the latter is flat on the bottom and rounded on top. Those who make orthodontic nipples claim they are less likely to cause issues with a child’s smile as they grow older; however, the reality is that no matter the type of pacifier if used too long, it can lead to bite and other dental problems.
- The Size of the Pacifier: You’ll also want to consider the appropriate size. Ranging from small to large based on age range, how it fits in their mouth will determine if it is safe to use or beneficial when it comes to soothing him or her.
- The Material Used: Most pacifiers are made from silicone and are significantly sturdier, but there are some made from latex and rubber. Just make sure your child is not allergic to latex before giving them one to use.
- The Type of Pacifier: From novelty (i.e. Halloween-themed) to stuffed animals to one-piece pacifiers, consider the upkeep and durability of each. While each type of pacifier will wear down over time, others (i.e. three-piece pacifier) tend to be more durable. No matter the type you choose, always make sure to inspect it frequently for damage.
EXTENDED PACIFIER USE: WHEN PROBLEMS ARISE
When your baby is crying, you want to offer something that will calm them. If you choose to use a pacifier, you should understand there are pros and cons that come with usage. While, yes, they are designed to quickly soothe, your child can become easily attached, making the process of weaning much more difficult later on.
However, if a child uses a pacifier beyond the age of 2 (some experts recommend 3), it can lead to problems developing with their jaw, teeth, and palate. Their facial and oral development is continually changing in the first few years of life. When a pacifier is regularly used by a growing toddler, it can affect the way their jaw grows and develops, which can result in your child needing advanced orthodontic treatment.
A dentist for infants in McKinney can provide helpful tips to break the habit and offer alternative ways to help your little one self-soothe. Although it may not be an easy process, your child will be less likely to suffer more serious oral health problems in the future, preventing you from spending additional time and money on advanced orthodontic and dental care.
About the Author
Dr. Dennis Bear is a board-certified pediatric dentist in McKinney, TX. As a father of two – a son and daughter – he understands the early years of parenthood and how helpful soothing mechanism can seem to be a lifesaver. He and his team will be happy to provide tips on choosing the right pacifier for your little one as well as how you can begin to wean them off this non-nutritive habit as they get older. If you need assistance in determining which infant-friendly products are best for your child, visit our website or call (469) 598-2327.