Dr. Young, our Polaris dentist, often gets questions from concerned parents related to pacifiers and the way in which they might affect the overall oral health of a child. The good news is that it is common for a young infant to use a pacifier; it brings comfort and soothes the child when they are so young. The key to good oral health and pacifier use, however, is to promote a great dental routine from a young age so that as the child ages, and outgrows his or her pacifier, their teeth don’t pay the price.
Good oral hygiene is best learned at an early age. The more that parents encourage healthy oral care, the better their children will adapt and understand the importance of oral hygiene. Care begins in the first few months of your child’s life, but it is more than just picking up a tooth brush. Our Polaris dentist office offers pediatric and family services for all ages.
Oral Health Care for Children:
As an infant, your child’s oral care begins with nutrition. Good nutrition aids in growth and development as your baby grows. Babies depend on their care givers to provide them with the formula or breast milk they need. At this stage, using a gentle infant gum brush to massage the gums is a great way to introduce oral health care.
When the first tooth starts to appear, a gum massage can help ease the pain as the tooth erupts. This is also the stage when a soft bristled brush can be introduced.
As more teeth come in, brushing twice every day helps reduce the risk of cavities and encourages healthy behavior.
Flossing can be introduced to the oral health care routine when teeth begin touching one another. Make it fun with a bright colored flosser if it helps promote flossing.
It is also a great time to visit your Polaris dentist within the first year of the infant’s life.
Pacifier Use and Infants:
Pacifier use is often okay as the baby’s teeth come in, but it is important to begin removing the pacifier throughout the day and to phase it out by the time the child is two. You want to reduce the need for the pacifier with as few tears as possible. Every child is unique in how they will eventually give up the pacifier, but some helpful suggestions follow:
- Out of sight: put the pacifier in a bathroom drawer. If they can’t see it, they may forget the need for it.
- Cut off the tip: a child may lose interest in the pacifier when it doesn’t work as it once did.
- Phase it out: begin allowing pacifier use only at night to soothe them to sleep.
- Cold turkey: take the pacifier away for good.
Children are amazing in that their young minds are growing and developing so quickly. As they grow into the toddler stage, you can try to reason with their need for a pacifier. Perhaps their favorite teddy bear needs it now or they are becoming a big brother or sister and don’t need to have a pacifier any longer. Stage an official ceremony or use one of the suggested ideas above; as long as you achieve your goal, any idea is a good idea.
At the Dental Center at Polaris, dentist Dr. Young is committed to helping your children maintain a healthy oral routine. We are invested in your child’s shining smile and love encouraging a proper dental regimen that will grow with them as they get older. Visit our Facebook page to keep up to date on the latest in oral care for you and your family.