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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is sucking on a pacifier bad for my childs developing teeth or gums?

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  • 1


    Welcome to Just Dental Care. “We do CARE”. We provide quality care and affordable dentistry to you and your family. We provide a comprehensive range … View Profile

    Sucking on a pacifier is not bad for a child's developing teeth and gums unless they are still sucking a pacifier at age 6. The reason for this is that at age 6, the adult teeth are coming through and if the child is still using a pacifier, this can eventually lead to an open bite where a gap is formed between the top and bottom front teeth, or to be more exact, the space where the pacifier fits.
    My daughter was on a pacifier and we chose Nuk orthodontic pacifier, because this had the thinnest neck.
    Personally, if you can wean your child off the pacifier as early as possible there is less risk of your child developing an open bite.

    If you have any questions, feel free to contact us 07 38633604

  • 2




    Principal dentist of Newington Dental Care. Previous teaching staff for the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Sydney. Special interest in dental anxiety management and orthodontics. … View Profile

    A few research papers on this topic is around, including “Effects of feeding on non-nutritive sucking habits and implications on occlusion in mixed dentition” Montaldo et al. (2011) International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 21(1):68-73. Of which the content of that journal noted that “Non-nutritive sucking habits (virtually anything that the child puts in the mouth either as a habit including thumb sucking, use of pacifiers) are associated with greater risk of crossbite,openbite, and class 2 molar relationship (that is, bite problems and jaw development issues)”.

    Unfortunately, this means pacifiers do have the potential to cause dental and jaw development problems at any age…. however, certain children that have genetic predisposition to bite issues (their parents have had braces in the past, or bite/jaw issues) are probably more likely to be affected by the use of a pacifier. Thumb sucking is one of the worst habits to affect your child's bite and jaw development, so it may be the lesser of the two evils to switch them to a pacifier.

    The effects on the gums are not as well known. Certainly there are potential of cross contamination of bacteria and viruses on dirty pacifiers that can cause gum infections. Probably a pacifier is no greater risk of infection than any other items that are put into the mouth that are not clean.

    In short… get your child off the pacifier as early as possible. If your child is currently using one, Dr. Leong is right to advise the one with the thinnest neck or the smallest size possible. Have your child see your local dentist regularly to check their bite and development, with any concerns, early intervention with myofunctional appliances, habit control and swallowing exercises could assist in preventing or minimising future orthodontic (braces) treatment.

    Hope I was able to help. Take care. 

  • 1


    Jaffar Dental - Trusted and Established since 1997. We are a family owned General Dental Practice offering a friendly and caring environment in Waterford QLD. … View Profile

    Beyond the age of 4, could possibly lead to reversable or sometimes irreversable tooth/ jaw discrepencies.

  • 1


    Sharon Moore

    Speech Pathologist

    I am a Speech Pathologist with 30 years clinical experience, working over the years with a wide range of clients with communication and swallowing disorders. … View Profile

    Pacifier use is best  phased out from the age of 2 years to avoid development of resistance to habit cessation. If not by 2 years then definitely by 4, as that is when the habit can lead to dental changes that can impact teeth, jaw and facial development. It is best to check with your dentist as to whether there are any dental effects of the pacifier use. If a pacifier is effecting your child's teeth and jaw development, an oral habit cessation program is advised. I offer programs in conjunction with orofacial myology retraining, which address tongue and lip habits that usually develop in conjunction with the dental spaces created by the pacifier. The programs generally run for 4 weeks of weekly sessions, doing lots of fun exercises and then once the ‘routines’ are established, parents can keep the program bubbling along for another 2 months or so, to be sure that the new habit of not using the pacifier is firmly established. This literally gives the brain, time to adapt and create new command centres and extinguish the old habit command centre.
    Your dentist will be able to help you with consideration of factors as to whether skeletal or dental factors  may be affecting your child's teeth and facial development 

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    Dr Wijey was born in Sydney, and then moved to the Gold Coast, Queensland, where he graduated from Griffith University in Dentistry in 2009. At … View Profile

    Yes. Pacifiers encourage incorrect tongue rest posture and an incorrect swallow.

    The mechanism of action of bottle feeding and pacifier sucking is completely different to that of breast feeding. During breast feeding the tongue compresses the nipple against the palate, which stimulates proper upper jaw development. Bottle and pacifier use recruits the facial muscles to suck, this develops a bad swallow and incorrect tongue posture and function; this all leads to orthodontic issues.

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