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The Pros and Problems of Pacifiers

Babies are born with a natural sucking reflex. It’s what allows them to feed. But even when they aren’t drinking milk or formula, sucking on the thumbs helps babies feel calm and secure. To accommodate the sucking reflex and to soothe a fussy baby, most parents provide pacifiers. It’s your decision (and your baby’s) whether to provide a pacifier or not. You can always talk to the pediatrician for guidance. And if you’re at all concerned that your child is using a pacifier for too long, don’t hesitate to speak with the dentist. Remember that kids need to see a dentist for a first visit no later than their first birthday, or as soon as their first tooth erupts.

Pros of Pacifiers

There are definitely many advantages to giving your baby a pacifier. The risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is highest from birth until six months. Pacifier use during this time may help reduce the risk of SIDS. Additionally, pacifiers can help calm down a crying baby, distract babies while they’re getting shots, and help babies equalize ear pressure during air travel.

Potential Problems with Pacifiers

Pacifiers can indeed cause problems with oral development when they’re used too late in a child’s life. Some dentists recommend trying to wean kids off their pacifiers by the second birthday. If they give up the pacifier by age two, oral development problems can usually self-correct. After this point, self-correction is harder, and problems can persist or worsen. In addition, prolonged pacifier use can increase the risk of recurrent middle ear infections. Very early pacifier use can interfere with healthy breastfeeding behaviors. And if your baby becomes too dependent on pacifiers to fall asleep, he or she may be unable to get back to sleep after awakening when the pacifier falls out.

The friendly team at Park 56 Dental is always excited to welcome new pediatric patients to our dental office in NYC. It’s our mission to help kids feel at ease in the dentist’s chair so that they are encouraged to pursue lifelong oral health! You can get in touch at (646) 783-3529 to schedule your child’s dentist appointment.

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