Did you use pacifiers when you were young? At which age did you stop? Pacifiers, which have a number of other nicknames such as dummies or soothers, have an interesting history as they have been used since the 17th century. Early pacifiers developed from hard teething rings and were used as a substitute for sugar rags.

Pacifiers are used to as a comfort object for babies and young children and a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in October 2005 indicated that pacifiers may also reduce the risk of Sudden Death Infant Syndrome (SDIS). Despite its usefulness, prolonged use of pacifiers may affect teeth alignment and increase the likelihood of a child developing a speech impediment.

Children should drop the pacifier when they are between two to four years old. Otherwise prolonged sucking may cause their top front teeth to protrude and bottom front teeth to tilt. This will eventually cause their upper and lower jaws, teeth and bite to be misaligned.

Our clinic is a fan of Sesame Street, with many of our dentists and staff spending their formative years watching the show. Our children are now the new generation fans of Sesame Street ! The show recently selected November 4, 2011 as ‘Put Down the Pacifier Day’. In line with their campaign to help children to wean off their pacifiers, here are some tips that parents can take note of:

  • Praise your child instead of scolding when they are not sucking the pacifier. A small reward may also be presented to the child to encourage them.
  • Children usually need their pacifier to make them feel more relaxed when they are anxious about something. Parents need to pay attention to the cause of anxiety and try to comfort them or distract their attention with something fun.
  • Bring your children to the toy shop and trade their pacifier with toys that they are interested with.
  • Your children may have heard about “Tooth Fairy”. Let them know that besides “Tooth Fairy”, there is “Binky Fairy” who will exchange their binky with something more rewarding if they put their binky under their pillow.
  • Environment plays an important role too – bring your children to play with other kids who do not use pacifiers anymore to get them used to the idea that pacifiers are not needed.
  • Stipulate a day or an event (can be any day – his/her birthday, Christmas Day, New Year’s Resolution) to be a “Put Down Their Pacifier Day” and make a small celebration as their farewell party with their pacifiers.

If you meet any difficulties in persuading your children to say goodbye to their pacifiers, perhaps a little chat with your dentist or paedodontist would be helpful. For more information on how to prepare your child for his or her first dental visit, visit our children’s dentistry page.

 

 

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