Is it acceptable to use a pacifier?
I frequently hear individuals advising new mothers, cautioning them against employing pacifiers for their infants due to the potential harm they can cause to their dental health. Is this admonition merely an unsubstantiated rumor, or does it carry some degree of truth? Are there certain types of pacifiers that are considered tooth-friendly? Furthermore, what is the correct method for utilizing pacifiers?
Allow us to delve into the ramifications of pacifiers on dental health. Let us commence by elucidating a term: non-nutritive sucking (NNS). Behaviors exhibited by babies, such as sucking on pacifiers or fingers, fall within the realm of non-nutritive sucking. This encompasses the act of sucking sans milk consumption. Non-nutritive sucking (NNS) often coexists alongside nutritive sucking (NS) during a baby's feeding process, forming an integral component of their unique sucking dynamics.
It is widely recognized that non-nutritive sucking (NNS) behaviors can impart certain effects on a child's dental structure and oral muscle function, particularly when prolonged finger sucking or the employment of exceedingly rigid pacifiers ensues. Indeed, these practices have the potential to cause dental abnormalities and notably influence the development and alignment of both front and posterior teeth.
Nevertheless, the inherent need for suckling in infants arises as they seek solace and find comfort in this primal instinct. Furthermore, pacifiers offer a respite for weary parents, granting them precious moments of serenity to stabilize their own emotions while tending to their little ones. I vividly recall stumbling upon a gripping comment beneath a discussion centered around pacifiers. A mother shared her heartfelt experience, revealing, "The incessant wails of my two to three-month-old baby had become unbearable. I am filled with gratitude that I could rely on a pacifier to pacify him, for without it, I shudder to think of the regrettable actions I might have resorted to!" This heartfelt account beautifully emphasizes the paramount importance of selecting an appropriate pacifier that not only provides solace but also ensures the well-being of a child's dental health.
According to archaeological evidence from Italy, Cyprus, and Greece, pacifiers have a history spanning at least 3000 years. By the mid-nineteenth century (1845), the first latex pacifier obtained patent protection, and through continuous research and improvement, it has endured to this day.
Various research data indicate that an exceptional pacifier should possess the following characteristics:
- Slim neck- Studies have shown that compared to conventional pacifiers, the use of a slim-neck pacifier helps to better prevent issues such as air leaks around the front teeth and dental misalignment.
- Suppleness of material- Research has demonstrated that infants exhibit noticeable dislike towards pacifiers with high hardness. Additionally, an excessively rigid pacifier can disrupt the rhythmic sucking pattern, affecting feeding outcomes and potentially leading to issues such as malocclusion. Soft latex and liquid silicone nipple materials are excellent choices for mothers, but it is important to be mindful of any potential latex allergies in babies.
- Breast-like design- When newborns emerge into the world, their palatal midline suture is not yet fused, resulting in a relatively high and arched palate. The cartilage and lateral processes of the palate are pliable at this stage. In comparison to traditional pacifiers, a pacifier designed to mimic the shape of a nipple after breastfeeding offers enhanced support at the Tektal wall (midline suture), promoting proper palatal development.
Proper utilization of a pacifier:
- It is advisable to refrain from introducing a pacifier to newborns who are exclusively breastfed, as we wouldn't want to confuse their precious little mouths. However, for little cherubs nurtured through bottle-feeding, a pacifier can be introduced to satiate their desire for tender suckling. Particularly for preterm miracles, this delightful tool can foster their mastery of sucking skills, acting as a gentle guide along their miraculous journey.
- Once our little darling's emotions find their delightful equilibrium, we can seize the opportune moment to introduce the pacifier, using its captivating allure to gracefully shift their focus. However, it is key to gracefully remove this wondrous device as our baby delves into a profound slumber, ensuring they don't develop an unwarranted reliance on it.
- Typically, babies begin teething around 6 to 10 months of age, although there may be variations with some little ones teething earlier or later. After the arrival of those adorable little teeth, it becomes important to gradually reduce the frequency of pacifier usage and introduce the use of teething toys. These delightful chewable companions help our precious ones in mastering the art of effective munching, paving the way for their remarkable oral skills.
- It is highly recommended to bid farewell to the pacifier between the ages of 10 months and 2 years. Regardless of the pacifier's enchanting allure, this period marks a crucial milestone to bid adieu to its comforting embrace. As our splendid little souls progress from 10 months to 2 years, their diet takes a delightful leap towards diverse culinary adventures. Suckling is no longer their primary need. By fostering exceptional chewing abilities, we not only support the development of their precious teeth but also empower them to grasp the magnificent realm of language at an early stage.
It is important to bear in mind that prolonged pacifier usage beyond the age of 3 significantly raises the likelihood of developing dental concerns, such as protruding front teeth and misaligned posterior teeth. Consequently, it is not recommended to continue employing any pacifier after the age of 3.