3 Reasons To Restrict Or Stop Your Toddler's Pacifier Usage

Posted on: 22 October 2015

Pacifiers can provide health benefits during a baby's first six months. However, by the time the little one becomes a toddler, it's a good idea for parents to start thinking about ending this habit. Consider what the experts have to say and then devise a plan for weaning your little one from pacifier use.

Reasons to Stop Pacifier Usage by Toddlers

Increased Risk of Ear Infections

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends ending or limiting pacifier use between the age of six months to one year to reduce the risk of ear infections. If your child is older than that and hasn't had any ear infections, you may still prevent future problems by restricting time with the pacifier.

Increased Risk of Dental Misalignment

Pacifier use can lead to the baby teeth tilting forward, especially if the youngster sucks on the device vigorously and often. This can cause issues with the alignment of the permanent teeth growing in behind the baby teeth. Those teeth can start growing in by the time a child is four or five years old.

Children shouldn't be using a pacifier after two years of age, according to an Academy of General Dentistry representative in their online publication Know Your Teeth. If they do, permanent teeth may grow in tilted forward and the shape of the mouth can be abnormal. This can cause an overbite, in which the upper jaw protrudes noticeably over the lower jaw. It may cause an open bite, in which the upper front teeth don't overlap the bottom front teeth and leave a noticeable gap.

These issues can result in a need for orthodontic braces. 

Delayed Speech Development

Pacifiers may seem beneficial for keeping a little one quiet, but that means the child isn't practicing speaking. If he or she does try to talk around the pacifier, there may be a tendency to learn distorted speech habits. 

Concluding Thoughts

If your child is younger than two years of age and hasn't had trouble with ear infections, you may not need to restrict pacifier use yet. If he or she is older than this, however, it's time to start encouraging the little one to reduce the amount of time with the device and eliminate it altogether as soon as you can.

You may want to schedule an appointment with a family dentist to evaluate your child's teeth and determine whether any negative effects from the pacifier are in evidence. Family dentists like Timothy D Calkins DDS see patients of all ages and can help you learn more about the best care for a toddler's oral health.