Unfortunately, the use of pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups can lead to speech and dental problems as your child gets older. Since children develop at different ages, it is a good idea to speak with your dentist and pediatrician to make sure that your infant or toddler’s early oral habits don’t cause problems.
In a child’s first few years, pacifier use generally doesn’t cause problems. But constant, long-term pacifier use, especially once permanent teeth come in, can lead to dental complications. Constant sucking can cause top front teeth to slant out, and bottom front teeth to tilt in. It also can lead to jaw misalignment (such as an overbite) and a narrowing of the roof of the mouth.
It is generally advised that children stop or drastically reduce their pacifier use around age 3. If a child is dependent on the pacifier to be calmed and soothed, try giving it to him or her only when absolutely necessary and using positive reinforcement to wean them off the habit.
If possible, buy pacifiers labeled “orthodontically friendly” because they may limit the risk of dental complications. It is also a good idea to buy pacifiers constructed as one piece. And never attach a pacifier to a string around your child’s neck, this can cause them to choke.
The Big Bad Bottle
Many children use a bottle longer than necessary. Apart from the risks associated with the sucking motion, bottles also carry a heavy risk of promoting tooth decay if they contain anything other than water.
Frequently sucking or sipping on milk or juice from a bottle over an extended period of time will increase your child’s risk of tooth decay. When sugars and carbohydrates come in consistent contact with teeth they create an environment for decay-causing bacteria to thrive. Tooth decay can lead to painful infection and in extreme cases children may need to have a tooth extraction or dental treatment to extensively repair damaged teeth.
If you notice small white spots or lines on your child’s teeth, particularly near the gum line, it is a good idea to consult your dentist immediately as this may be an early sign of decay. As a way to cut back on children’s bottle use, your pediatrician or pediatric dentist may recommend using sippy cups. While these are very useful for transitioning your child from bottle to regular cups, they also pose their own threat to teeth and speech development.
For more help breaking baby away from the bottle or pacifier, talk to your dentist
Quality dental care is essential for your child’s lifelong oral health. It’s important that your child’s first experiences with the dentist are positive. That’s why your dentist will make every effort to help your child feel comfortable and in control during each visit. Your own attitude and example also play an important role in setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Your child should visit a dentist as early as six months, when the baby’s first tooth appears. A first tooth’s appearance is an excellent time to schedule a dental evaluation. At that time, your dentist will diagnose and help prevent any future oral disorders. Your dentist can also answer any questions you have about caring for your child’s teeth.
During your visit your attitude can convey the message that dental visits are pleasant adventures. Emphasize the attention that your child will get while in the chair. Try to schedule the appointment for the time of day when your child is most rested and cooperative. To prepare your child, read a story together about a trip to the dentist. You may want to play dentist and take turns looking into each other’s mouth with a flashlight. Have fun; this should be a pleasant experience!