Are Pacifiers Bad for Your Child’s Teeth? Dental Experts Weigh In

Pacifiers, also known as binkies or pacis, have long been a source of comfort for babies and toddlers. While they may provide temporary relief, parents often wonder if pacifiers will affect your child’s teeth. Newtown Dentistry for Kids has been providing dental care to babies and toddlers for more than 25 years and has consulted hundreds of parents on the recommended timing for pacifier use and the effects they have on their child’s dental health. Here are some FAQs relating to pacifier use and the answers provided by our pediatric dental experts.

At what age does a pacifier affect teeth negatively?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), pacifier use should ideally be discontinued by ages 2 to 3. Prolonged pacifier use can lead to a variety of oral health issues, including dental malocclusion, and misalignment. Adverse dental effects can often be evident beyond 4 years of age.

What common negative conditions are associated with pacifier use?

At Newtown Dentistry, we encourage parents to be aware of the duration and intensity of pacifier use to minimize potential complications. Over our 25 years of treating children, we have found some common complications from pacifier use, including:

  • Dental misalignment: Long-term pacifier use can cause changes in the alignment of teeth, leading to bite problems such as an open bite (when the upper and lower teeth don’t meet properly when the mouth is closed).
  • Malocclusion: Continuous pacifier use may contribute to malocclusion, where the upper and lower teeth do not align correctly when biting or chewing.
  • Palatal changes: Extended pacifier use can result in alterations to the shape of the roof of the mouth (palate), leading to potential speech difficulties.
  • Cavities: In some extreme cases of sharing pacifiers, use has been linked to gingival recession, or gum loss, and pediatric cavities.

Can I minimize adverse affect of the pacifier?

There are a few things parents can do that may minimize the development of pacifier teeth, including:

  • Avoid sharing pacifiers: Sharing pacifiers between children can expose your child to unwanted bacteria, causing early cavities or general infections.
  • Staying away from added sugars: Avoid dipping your baby’s pacifier in something sweet to encourage them to take the pacifier. Leaving gums or baby teeth exposed to extra sugar can eventually cause cavities.
  • Get the right size: Pacifiers come in varying sizes with recommended age ranges. You do not want a pacifier that is too large or too small for your child’s mouth. If the entire pacifier can fit into your child’s mouth, this could pose a choking risk.

Do pacifier teeth correct themselves?

In some cases, the changes in tooth alignment caused by pacifier use may correct themselves once the pacifier is discontinued and permanent teeth begin to emerge. However, this is not always the case. We encourage parents to monitor their child’s dental development and call for an appointment if any concerns arise.

When should babies see a dentist?

At Newtown Dentistry for Kids, parent education is an essential part of our treatment plans. The first dental visit is the ideal time to see when is the ideal time to discontinue pacifier use; learn tips about thumb sucking, teething, and diet; and address any individual concerns you may have about your child’s situation. We recommend that you make an appointment for your baby to see us in their first year for a number of reasons:

  • Preventing tooth decay
  • Identifying potential issues early on
  • Building comfort and reducing anxiety
  • Applying fluoride varnish
  • Learning oral hygiene tips for babies
  • Getting answers to your questions

The AAPD stresses the importance of establishing a “dental home” for your child by the age of 1 — a comfortable, professional, child-centric practice focused on healthy dental development and the overall well-being of your child. Take a tour of our dental home, and then schedule your appointment. Or, call us anytime at (215) 774-5496.


    Newtown Dentistry

  • DATE

    August 9, 2023


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