When deciding whether or not to use a pacifier for your baby, you want to know which options are best for their oral health. Incorrect pacifier use could lead to problems with your child’s jaw and teeth development, so it’s understandable that you’d want to make the right choice!
There are several factors to take into account when choosing a product. Are some pacifiers better than others for a child’s oral health? Here’s your guide to choosing the right pacifier for your baby!
Consider the Material
If you choose a plastic pacifier, consider a BPA-free version. Bisphenol A is a chemical used in plastics that has been linked to endocrine disorders in the body. If you’re looking for a plastic pacifier, check the label to see if it says “BPA-free”.
Medical-grade silicone and natural rubber are two excellent materials to consider for your child’s pacifier . However, natural rubber or latex materials need to be replaced more often, and you should consider avoiding them if you have a family history of latex allergies.
Go With a One-Piece Pacifier
The more joints or crevices a pacifier has, the more places bacteria can accumulate. Look for a pacifier that’s a single unit rather than one that has detachable parts, which invariably create spaces for dirt and germs to hide.
In addition, avoid pacifiers that have a string attached such as a lanyard. These attachments could create a choking risk for your baby. Instead, choose a pacifier that has an attached handle for increased safety and easy cleaning .
Look for an Orthodontic Pacifier
An orthodontic pacifier is a pacifier that mimics the natural shape of a nipple. As such, it helps to support proper jaw and teeth development for your child . Orthodontic pacifiers are also considered to be more comfortable for your baby as they support a more natural fit.
Although orthodontic pacifiers will be labeled as such, you can tell the difference in the shape: while a traditional pacifier has a more bulbous and rounded tip, an orthodontic pacifier tends to be smaller, with a flat bottom and a rounded top.
Best Practices for Using a Pacifier for Your Little One
If you choose to use a pacifier for your baby, here are a few best practices to support your child’s health and wellbeing:
- Never introduce a pacifier until your child has an established feeding routine, with the exception of premature babies in the hospital .
- Don’t offer a pacifier as the only form of comfort for your baby and don’t use one in place of feeding.
- Clean the pacifier with hot water and soap after each use, rinsing thoroughly and allowing it to cool fully before giving it to your child.
- Dispose of a pacifier that has cracks, tears, or is otherwise damaged.
- Do not dip the pacifier in a sweet substance such as sugar or honey, as these sweets can encourage tooth decay.
- Only give the pacifier when necessary, and consider discontinuing use after one year of age.
If you have any questions about pacifier use and your child’s oral health, follow up with your child-friendly dentist. Your little one should have their first dental visit around their first birthday, and this is an excellent opportunity to discuss pacifier use and any other questions you have with your oral healthcare professional!