According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), pacifiers can bring benefits and drawbacks. Among parents, using a pacifier can be a highly debated subject, even if your child has already demonstrated positive feelings their binky.

What does a pacifier do?

Pacifiers and binkies exist to help parents. They pacify infants when they’re not hungry or too full but still want the comfort of sucking. In the early months of a new baby, pacifiers can be extremely helpful. They allow babies to self soothe.

On the positive side

  • Pacifiers provide a source of comfort to infants.
  • Pacifiers can assist in reducing the chance of sudden infant death syndrome because babies with pacifiers sleep less deeply and are more easily awakened.

On the negative side

  • Pacifiers can harm the growth and development of the mouth and teeth.
  • Prolonged use can cause changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth. Prolonged use can also prevent proper growth of the mouth and create problems with tooth alignment.
  • Pacifiers can increase the risk of acute middle ear infections.

For a fussy baby, most parents would agree that a pacifier can be an amazing tool for calming and soothing — and it’s preferable to thumb sucking. However, dental experts warn that once your child is preschool-aged, it can interfere with the development of healthy teeth. More alarming, if your child continues using a pacifier past age three, serious dental malformation can occur. Additionally, children who use pacifiers past the toddler years may be more likely to need braces in the future.

If you choose to give your child a pacifier:

Follow these tips to reduce the chances of affecting their dental development:

  • Restrict pacifier use to when the infant needs to fall asleep
  • Choose a pacifier with ventilation holes in the shield, permitting the passage of air
  • Frequently clean and change out the pacifier

When you choose to break the pacifier habit:

Do it by age two, as up to that age, teeth alignment or bone development problems usually correct themselves by about six months after pacifier use stops.

Some tips for helping wean your child from the pacifier:

  • Pierce the top or cut it shorter to reduce sucking gratification
  • “Accidentally” forget to bring it when you leave the house or go on vacation
  • Talk to your dentist about more ways to break the binky habit (800) 717-KIDS

Common Questions about pacifiers

Do pacifier affect baby teeth?

In certain instances, heavy pacifier use can cause the protrusion of a baby’s front teeth. While there are hereditary issues that can affect natural development and teeth position, thumb sucking and binky use can result in improper oral maturation in young children.

Are pacifiers bad for babies teeth?

It’s true, pacifiers can hamper dental development in children and impact overall oral health. The ADA has said that binkies, pacifiers, thumb sucking and other comforts can negatively affect the natural growth of a child’s mouth and the alignment of their teeth.

Are there any pacifier side effects?

There are some developmental drawbacks that come with heavy pacifier use. Your child could develop a dependency on the pacifier, which can head to significant dental and oral issues. Normal pacifier use is fine, but prolonged use can lead to poor tooth alignment.

Can pacifier teeth correct themselves?

The common teeth and oral issues caused by heavy or prolonged pacifier use are often called “pacifier teeth.” When these habits are allowed to continue unchecked, there can be misalignment and other dental issues in a young child’s mouth, and won’t self correct.

Can a pacifier prevent teeth from coming in?

In some cases, pacifier use can harm proper development of the mouth and teeth. Extended pacifier use can also improperly impact the roof of your child’s mouth. Pacifier use can cause issues with tooth alignment, and negatively affect overall dental growth.

Can a pacifier cause gas?

Colic is mostly unknown in its causes, but there are many theories that lead to what creates it, including allergies and lactose intolerance. Your child can swallow extra air while feeding, which will cause gas and hiccups which are painful and scary.

How long should a child have a pacifier?

While it can be a challenge to find the “perfect time” to wean your baby from their pacifier, it’s ideal to start at age 1 and completely cut them off at age 3. Infants should quit pacifier use of their own volition, in most cases.

Are pacifiers ok for newborns?

In most cases, pacifiers are just fine for your newborn to use. Whether or not your newborn uses one is dependent on your needs, and the needs of your baby. If they’re having trouble latching, you might want to wait a few weeks.

When do pacifiers start affecting teeth?

Pacifiers can begin to affect teeth at around 24 months, depending on the consistency and heaviness of use. Every baby is different, and their needs might impact both pacifier use and teeth development. Physicians typically recommend reduced use at 6 months.