Your baby has a pacifier and you’re wondering if it will affect their teeth? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Pacifiers can cause “pacifier teeth,” which are small bumps on your child’s front teeth caused by prolonged use of a pacifier. These bumps can lead to tooth decay and gum disease in the future.
There are plenty of ways to avoid this from happening, and we’ve gathered some of the top things for you to understand about it.
Keep reading to learn more about it.
What Is “Pacifier Teeth”?
Pacifier teeth, commonly referred to as BPA, are small bumps that appear on your child’s front teeth. These bumps form when a child uses a pacifier for an extended amount of time. They can also develop if a child sucks their thumb or fingers for too long. While the cause of these bumps is clear, the long-term effects are not.
Pacifier teeth do not always lead to cavities or gum disease, but can lead to a higher risk of developing them. The American Dental Association (ADA) does not recommend using pacifiers as a way to soothe your child.
This is because prolonged use causes teeth to shift slightly out of place. It can also impact the development of children’s facial features, but there is still more research to do in this area.
During childhood, your child’s jaws are still growing and forming muscles. If they suck on pacifiers or thumbs all day, their lips, cheeks, tongues, and jaws can develop abnormally causing speech problems later on.
Additionally, the suction of a pacifier can affect your child’s teeth when they are still developing. This can lead to misshaping or worse, tooth loss.
How Can This Impact Your Child?
If your child already has pacifier teeth, you should take them to a dentist for a check-up. The dentist may want to keep an eye on your child’s teeth to make sure they don’t develop any cavities or gum disease.
If your child does not have pacifier teeth damage, there are some things you can do to help prevent them from developing.
It’s not too late to stop using the pacifier, but you should do it gradually to avoid frustration and crying. If your child is older than 2 years old, you can switch directly to a twin-handle sippy cup. This will help train them to drink without teeth touching any spouts or straws.
If your child is younger than 2 years old, you can start by weaning them from the pacifier at nap time and bedtime. Once they are comfortable with this, you can start to wean them from the pacifier during the day as well.
One way to help your child stop using a pacifier is to replace it with a fun, new toy. When your child is sucking on the pacifier, they are just soothing themselves. If they have something else to soothe themselves with, they may not need the pacifier as much.
How Can You Avoid Pacifier Teeth?
There are some simple things you can do to reduce your baby’s risk of developing pacifier teeth and crooked teeth in general. Using a pacifier more often is not recommended, but if you must use one it may be best to use them for short periods. You should also avoid using them while the baby is sleeping.
The ADA recommends limiting your child’s use to 30 minutes per day and not at all after age two.
If you do use a pacifier, make sure it has one of the following:
- A shield cover
- A nipple guard
- An orthodontic nipple
- A ventilation space
These features help reduce the chances of your child developing pacifier teeth.
If you’re unsure of whether or not your child is suffering from pacifier teeth, you should schedule an appointment with our team at their next dental checkup. We can take a look and provide the necessary treatments to ensure they have healthy teeth throughout their lives.
Other things you can keep top of mind include:
- Switching to a twin-handled sippy cup at age 2 if your child is using a pacifier
- Gradually weaning your child from the pacifier at nap time and bedtime
- Replacing the pacifier with a new toy
- Limiting use to 30 minutes per day
- Avoiding use after age 2
These tips can help reduce the risk of your child developing pacifier teeth. Letting your little one have that binky now may cause “pacifier teeth” down the line. Learn the ways pacifiers could affect your baby’s teeth in the future. For more information, talk to our team at their next dentist’s appointment.
What to Do If You Already Have Pacifier Teeth
If your child already has pacifier teeth, there are some things you can do to help prevent them from getting worse. Make sure they continue to visit our office for cleanings and checkups
You can also ask us if dental sealants would be suitable for protecting the inside of their teeth. Sealants are a plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars. This will help keep out plaque and bacteria.
If your child has gum disease, you may need to see a periodontist for treatment. Gum disease can worsen pacifier teeth and lead to tooth loss. It can also cause bone loss, which will affect your child’s teeth even more.
If your child is experiencing pain from their pacifier teeth, you can give them over-the-counter pain medication. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen will help to relieve their discomfort. This is important, as your child may not want to eat or drink if they are in pain.
If your child’s pacifier teeth are causing them problems, make an appointment with our office today. We can help get their smile back on track.
Knowing More About Pacifier Teeth
Now that you know more about it, what are you going to do to reduce your child’s risk?
These tips will help reduce the risk of developing pacifier teeth, but they will not prevent it from happening altogether. If you already have pacifier teeth, our team can help.
If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact our office. We are happy to help in any way we can.