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Pacifier use for newborns

As I welcome my newborn son this week, my wife and I are getting into the routine of feeding, changing diapers, and survival mode. Part of this survival mode is the urge to shove a shiny plastic pacifier in his cute little mouth just to get a few moments of rest. While pacifiers can be great to soothe a crying baby, parents must always be careful about long-term habits and the potential for disturbances in the growth and development of your little one’s jaws and teeth. These habits include long-term pacifier use, thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, lip-biting, and nail-biting. Such habits can lead to problems like open-bites, constricted jaws, crossbites, flared-teeth, disruption of tooth eruption, as well as swallowing and speech difficulty. Although these developmental disturbances can be corrected with properly timed orthodontic treatment, sometimes as early as 7 or 8 years old, prevention is always the best option. Although the most severe complications from dental habits can occur while your child first gets their adult teeth (around 6-7 years old), I always recommend to extinguish the habit as early as possible and well ahead of permanent tooth eruption so the habit is long gone before this most crucial transition from baby to adult teeth. However, stopping a habit can be a real pain in the butt! Don’t hesitate to seek help from your child’s dentist, orthodontist, or speech pathologist to help get them set on the right path of dental development.

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