Pacifiers can often seem like a miracle for tired-out parents and a panacea for all of their child's woes. They are so effective in calming crying children, that parents often reach for them in a moment of need without giving it a second thought. Before long, a habit develops, and the children are even more hooked than the parents.
The unfortunate news is that prolonged reliance on or overuse of pacifiers may cause more harm than good:
When pacifier use is stopped before the age of 2, any tooth misalignment or bone distortion that had been developing corrects itself within months in most cases. However, if pacifier use continues past that age, the effects become more permanent. This causes problems with the child's mouth growth and the alignment of their teeth. In some cases, the roof of the child's mouth could be deformed.
The continuous sucking promoted by pacifier use can cause issues with acute middle ear infections. The use of the pacifier allows the auditory tubes to be open for longer periods of time than normal, and this allows secretions and mucus from the throat to travel into the middle ear.
The bacteria from this mucus are what leads to ear infections. Many parents who don't realize this connection experience a lot of frustration while their child suffers from these painful infections.
They may even try rigorous antibiotic courses and even surgery without recognizing that the solution was as simple as weaning their child off the pacifier.
How to Break the Habit
Now that you recognize the importance of breaking this habit, it comes down to the "how". Several common methods include:
- Dipping the pacifier in something bitter, such as white vinegar
- Piercing the nipple of the pacifier or cutting it to reduce the child's sense of sucking satisfaction
- Accidentally leaving it behind on a trip
- Making the child quit cold turkey
All this is not to say that pacifier use is never beneficial. Anyone with a baby who just won't stop crying knows for a fact that it is! In fact, pacifier use has even been shown to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The problems arise only when the pacifier is used too often or too long.
Your family's pediatrician or pediatric dentist can offer advice on this matter if you need some extra reinforcements. After all, they are the ones who have to see the results of prolonged pacifier use day in and day out, so they'll be more than happy to help you wean your child off of them. To learn more, contact a company like Neu Family Dental Center with any questions you have.