Important Information About Children’s Teeth and Pacifiers

There is plenty of debate as to whether it is prudent to provide babies with pacifiers as there might be the potential for damage to children's teeth.  There are certainly numerous positives and negatives to pacifiers.

Unfortunately, the negatives tend to outweigh the positives. Below, we delve into whether pacifiers are a legitimate threat to children's teeth or if children should be allowed to use pacifiers as often as necessary.

A helpful look at children and pacifiers

The Benefits of Pacifiers

Before we explain the potential negatives of pacifiers, it is important to note there are some logical reasons for providing little ones with pacifiers.  Pacifiers make infants comfortable. Furthermore, pacifiers can help decrease the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Babies with pacifiers usually do not sleep as deeply as those who do not have pacifiers.  This is important to note since it is easier for the pacifier use to waken a baby who falls into a deep sleep and is at risk of not breathing properly.

The Negatives of Pacifiers in the Context of Children's Teeth

Pacifiers have the potential to harm the growth and development of children's teeth as well as other parts of the mouth.  Extended pacifier use might spur changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth. It can also prevent the mouth from growing as it should.  A mouth that does not grow properly will lead to issues with tooth alignment.

Can a Pacifier be Used Safely?

If you are absolutely insistent on providing your child with a pacifier, the manner in which it is provided will help reduce potential harm.  Above all, pacifier use should be restricted to use when the infant falls asleep. Choose a pacifier with small holes for ventilation in the shield to permit the passage of air.

Such ventilation is of the utmost importance since there is the potential for the pacifier to become lodged in the throat.  It will also help to clean the pacifier before giving it to the child.

At What Age Should Pacifier use Cease?

The Academy of General Dentistry advises parents to cease child pacifier use at the age of two.  Up until this age, alignment issues with the teeth or developing bone are remedied within 6 months following the stoppage of pacifier use.  The problem is breaking this habit is often quite difficult.

You can wean your little one off a pacifier by dipping it in white vinegar. The taste will turn your child off of the pacifier rather quickly. Another strategy is to cut the pacifier to shorten it so sucking satisfaction dissipates. If your little one does not obtain enjoyment out of sucking such a modified pacifier, the habit will stop sooner or later.

Plenty of parents find success with the cold turkey approach.  Leave the pacifier at home when heading out for a family vacation and it just might break the habit without spurring excessive crying.


For more information about children's dentistry or to schedule an appointment with Pleasant Dental, request an appointment for your child in our Newtown dental office here: Or call us at (203) 290-3648.

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