- Written by Queen Munguti for KenyaKidz
A baby sucking on a pacifier is a way of providing comfort after they stop breastfeeding however Kenyan parents are being warned that the long term use of it can cause side effects in a child’s teeth.
“If a child repeatedly sucks on a finger, pacifier or other object over long periods of time, it will lead to orthodontic problems. The upper front teeth may tip outward or not come in properly. Other changes in tooth position and jaw alignment also may occur,” this is according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
“However in the pacifier-versus-thumb debate, it is best to encourage the child to such on the pacifier because the habit is easier to break at an earlier age.”
Pacifiers are not substitutes to bottle feeding but just serve as a comforting mechanism for babies who stop breastfeeding.
Other orthodontic problems that may occur include the teeth slanting out, the bottom front teeth tilting in, the upper and lower jaws are misaligned, the roof of the mouth become narrower side to side, teeth may become crooked and the child may develop bite problems.
It is recommended that parents offer something in exchange to encourage the stop of the behaviour such as an object that they can play with that shift their focus from the need of sucking on a pacifier.
“The pacifier should never be dipped pacifier into honey or anything sweet before giving it to a baby as this will lead to tooth decay and it should be inspected frequently for signs of wear or deterioration. Discard if the bulb has become sticky, swollen,” said the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry report.
There is also an association between pacifier use and acute middle ear infections (otitis media). "Continuous sucking on a pacifier can cause the auditory tubes to become abnormally open, which allows secretions from the throat to seep into the middle ear," explains AGD spokesperson Maria Smith, DDS. "Transmission of bacteria in secretions would lead to middle ear infections