While there are a quite few documented benefits to giving babies pacifiers, there are downsides to prolonged pacifier use.
Research shows that pacifiers can actually help reduce the incidences of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Babies who suck on pacifiers while they sleep don’t fall asleep as deeply as those who don’t suck on pacifiers. This means that if the baby stops breathing while sleeping they can more easily wake themselves up and start breathing again. In addition to reducing the chance of SIDS, pacifiers also help provide comfort reducing a baby’s anxiety and stress levels.
So What’s the Problem?
Despite all these benefits, however, there are dental implications of using a pacifier. Continued sucking on a thumb or pacifier can negatively impact the alignment of the teeth. Experts recommend the latest a pacifier should be in use is by the child’s second birthday. Beyond age two, pacifier use can cause serious damage to your child’s dentition and tooth alignment.
In addition to the impact on alignment, you also have to take into consideration that continued use of a pacifier could increase the incidences of inner ear infections. The action of sucking on a pacifier opens the auditory tubes in the ear canal. Prolonged sucking causes the auditory tubes to remain open for a long time, allowing bacteria to infect the inner ear.
Should you have questions around infant pacifier use, consult your local Boston area dentistry professionals at Fiorillo Dental today!