The pacifier impact on teeth

How do pacifiers affect your baby's teeth?

We get a lot of questions about pacifiers' impact on the teeth, and we of course want to answer these questions as factual and honestly as we can. Therefore, we are continuously in contact with dental health professionals, to get updated about the latest research and studies within the subject.

When we normally introduce a pacifier to our newborn baby we do not think about their teeth. Instead, we want to care for our baby, to calm it down, and to secure its comfort.

Check out the video where dental hygienist Carina Løvstad explains how the use of pacifiers impact the teeth:

PACIFIER HABITS

Babies have from birth a natural sucking reflex, and the child will seek to satisfy this need from a pacifier, the mother's breast, thumb, or other. From a dental point of view is it better to provide a pacifier to prevent the baby from sucking on its thumb.

"One of the benefits of pacifiers is to prevent that the baby does not start sucking on the thumb. Concerning teeth and jaws, the pacifier is preferable. It is very difficult for the baby to stop using his or her thumb whereas a pacifier can be taken away from the baby much more easily".
- Nina Nissen Falbert, Dentist

Another benefit of pacifiers (from a dental point of view) is that the use of pacifiers counteracts mouth breathing.

Mouth breathing means that you frequently - both day and night - use your mouth to breathe instead of your nose. It is better to breathe through the nose, as it protects the mucous membranes, increases oxygen uptake, counteracts cavities in the teeth, and counteracts an altered jaw position due to the tongue’s resting position.”
- Carina Løvstad, Dental Hygienist

PACIFIER IMPACTS

There are many different pacifiers on the market. However, when it comes to teeth, it really does not matter which pacifier your baby uses, as the teeth normally will align no matter the misalignment when the recommendations are followed, and the child stops using the pacifier around the age of 3."
- Nina Nissen Falbert, Dentist

There are no studies that confirm that one type of pacifier is better to others in relation to tooth alignment issues. Different pacifier nipples affect the teeth differently, but no pacifier nipple is better than others. Some advice is to choose a pacifier with a valve, as the valve causes the air to be pressed out of the nipple when the baby sucks on it. This helps the nipple to form naturally after the baby's mouth, tongue, and palate.

STOP IN TIME

As your baby grows and develops it is important to start considering teeth and gum impact.

Many studies have shown that if your child stop using a pacifier before the age of three, the teeth’s position generally gets normalized without treatment later in life
- Nina Nissen Falbert, Dentist

It is important as with anything to wean your baby off their pacifier in small, gradual moments to adjust their mindset and get them used to live without it but still providing that comfort when it is needed at the toddler phase. If it is not possible to wean the baby off the pacifier before the age of three, try to get the baby to use the pacifier as little as possible and with the least possible intensity.

It is important to remember that all children are different, and it is the long-term use of the pacifier that influences the alignment of the teeth. It will depend on how much they use it, for how long, and the intensity. You know your child best, and if you are in doubt, you should take the advice of your dentist.

FAQ

1. Do pacifiers affect the permanent teeth?
If your child stops using the pacifier before the age of three (so before the permanent teeth erupt), the baby teeth’ position generally gets normalized, and the permanent teeth will not be affected.

2. Does pacifiers’ shape affect the palate and the mouth development?
Long-term pacifier use (after the age of three) can cause alignment issues with both the baby teeth the permanent teeth and the jaws. This can affect the child’s chewing or biting ability, and it can have consequences for the child’s jaw joint and its appearance.

Note this is after long-term pacifier use. If your child stops using the pacifier before the age of three (so before the permanent teeth erupt), the baby teeth’ position generally gets normalized, and the permanent teeth will not be affected.

3. When should you stop using a pacifier?
Many studies have shown that if your child stops using a pacifier before the age of three, the baby teeth’ position generally gets normalized, and the permanent teeth will not be affected.

4. Which pacifier shape (round, flat or anatomical) are best regarding the teeth?
There are no studies that confirm that one type of pacifier is better than others in relation to tooth alignment issues. Different pacifier nipples affect the teeth differently, but no pacifier nipple is better than others. If the child stops using the pacifier at the age of 3, the baby teeth often align into the correct position by themselves, and the permanent teeth will not be affected.

5. Can extended pacifier use cause an overbite, cross bite, or open bite later in life?
Yes, long-term pacifier use can cause alignment issues with the teeth and jaws later in life. However, this applies to long-term use. If your child stops using the pacifier before the age of three (before the permanent teeth erupt), the baby teeth’ position generally gets normalized, and the permanent teeth will not be affected.

6. Can a pacifier be orthodontic approved by dentists?
If "orthodontic approved by dentists" means that a dentist has approved that a pacifier does not affect the teeth, then no! Different pacifiers affect the teeth differently. However, the important thing is how long the child uses the pacifier. If your child stops using the pacifier before the age of three (before the permanent teeth erupt), the baby teeth’ position generally gets normalized, and the permanent teeth will not be affected.

7. Can it be harmful to children’s teeth if they share their pacifier with other children regarding bacteria?
No, it is not harmful to the teeth to share a pacifier regarding bacteria, but in relation to illnesses such as colds, or other infectious childhood diseases it is a good idea to keep a pacifier private and not share it.

8. Can children use pacifiers after a tongue- and lip-tie laser?
To clarify, tongue-tie occurs when the band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth is abnormally short, tight, or thick, resulting in restricted movement of the tongue. Lip-tie is a similar condition involving the band of tissue that connects the upper lip to the gum.

It is recommended to use a pacifier after a tongue- and lip-tie laser if the child is under 3 years old and already uses a pacifier. However, for children over 3 years old and for children who do not use a pacifier they should do tongue exercises instead. Please contact your doctor for information about tongue exercises after a tongue- and lip-tie laser.

9. Will BIBS Colour size 3 harm the teeth more than a size 1?
It is not dangerous to give a newborn a size 3. However, most newborns prefer a smaller size. All BIBS pacifiers no matter size can be used from when your baby is born. But of course, will a larger pacifier press more on the teeth than a smaller size pacifier. But keep in mind that if your baby stops using the pacifier before they are three years old (that is, before the permanent teeth erupt), the baby teeth’ position generally gets normalized, and the permanent teeth will not be affected.