A significant number of parents make use of pacifiers to soothe babies. However, it is also a well-known fact that this can cause pacifier teeth damage. On the other hand, pacifiers do have benefits and if used correctly, they do not cause harm.
In this article, we discuss what is pacifier teeth and how to fix them.
What is Pacifier Teeth Damage?
Teeth are formed in the womb and continue to develop throughout childhood. Anything introduced in a child’s mouth for an extended amount of time at this phase can obstruct his or her healthy oral and dental development.
Pacifier teeth damage is a type of malocclusion (teeth misalignment) that occurs as a result of continuous usage of pacifiers or thumb sucking. The fundamental cause of this issue is the continual activity of sucking on an object that disrupts the natural alignment of the teeth. The severity and speed with which pacifier teeth form are influenced by the amount/intensity of sucking.
The excessive or wrong use of pacifiers can cause:
- An overbite often called buck teeth — the upper teeth protrude outward and cover the lower teeth
- Open bite in which both the upper and lower teeth protrude outward and do not touch each other. This creates a gap between them
- Speech problems — the placement of the tongue is affected because the teeth are misaligned
Ways to Fix Pacifier Teeth
Many parents are concerned about pacifier teeth, or the dental troubles that they can cause. Their most frequent question is whether pacifier teeth damage can resolve on its own or dental intervention is necessary?
The answer is that it depends. Within the paediatric dental community, no complete consensus has been reached on this topic. Many specialists, however, believe that ‘when’ a child is weaned off of a pacifier, it has a direct impact on how permanent the dental troubles will be. For example, problems discovered before a kid is 24 months old may usually be corrected within 6 months of weaning. In that instance, there may be no need for dental treatment.
On the other hand, pacifier teeth damage in children older than 24 months may mean that orthodontic treatments are the only method to treat any dental issues that emerge. This is especially true for children aged 4 and up, as adult teeth begin to grow beneath their baby teeth around this time.
Dentists specializing in dental issues associated with children suggest treatments with braces, clear aligners, bite blocks, vertical pull chin cups, high-pull headgear, and tongue cribs.
Some parents may avoid using pacifiers altogether for their children, but damage can be prevented by weaning off the child at the right time. It is also important to learn the right way to use them to prevent damage.
Even if your child is not using a pacifier but sucks on the thumb vigorously and the habit is not stopped for a long time, then it can be equally problematic. Children that keep sucking their thumb even after 4 years of age will experience many of the same dental issues caused by pacifiers.
To learn more about how to fix pacifier teeth or book your appointment, call or visit Nick Addario in Chula Vista.