Pediatric Dentistry


Pacifiers are objects that are put into the baby’s mouth during periods of distress or crying when the infant is either not hungry or his stomach is too full to eat but still needs the pleasure derived from sucking on something. They help in soothing the babies while crying.

Why do babies like Pacifiers and Sucking?

Babies like sucking because it makes them feel like being in their mother’s womb. In the womb the babies suck their fingers because the womb’s soft walls deflect their hands towards the mouth. After birth, they try to suck their fingers but cannot do it because of poor muscle coordination. That’s why babies are so relieved when you put a pacifier, breast, or bottle right into place.

When should my baby start using a pacifier?

In breastfed babies, pacifiers should be used only when the baby is one month of age and older so that till this time he gets used to the normal nursing routine. Early pacifier use can disrupt the breastfeeding habit. Pacifiers may hide feeding cues in your babies. Feeding cues are ways that your baby tells you that they are hungry. This can eventually affect the mother’s milk supply.

Bottle-fed babies can be given pacifiers right after birth.

How to choose a Pacifier?

Usually, there are two types of pacifiers: Orthodontic and Non-orthodontic. Always choose a pacifier that promotes oral development. This can be accomplished by looking out for the word ‘Orthodontic’ on the product.

The orthodontic design imitates the natural nipple and accommodates the baby’s natural tongue thrust. This motion is similar to the one when the baby pulls milk from the mother’s natural breast. The nipple tip is flatter and square-shaped. 

The non – orthodontic design is the older design with a bubble tip.

Research suggests that Orthodontic designs are best as they do not alter the shape of the baby’s dental arch/ridge.

Do pacifiers help in relieving pain?

The American Academy of Paediatrics lists pacifiers as one of the key methods to relieve pain in infants younger than 3 months of age during minor procedures in the emergency department. Also, pacifier use has been recommended to relieve a crying baby during the following procedures: catheterization, circumcision, heel sticks, immunizations, insertion of an intravenous line, lumbar puncture, screening for retinopathy of prematurity, and venepuncture.

At what age can the pacifier be used?

Each and every child’s mouth and teeth develop differently. Using pacifiers beyond 2 years of age should be a decision made by the parents by discussing with their Paediatric Dentist or Paediatrician. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends discontinuing the use of pacifiers by 3 years of age. After 2 years of pacifier use, noticeable changes can be seen in the dentition. But the use of pacifiers beyond 4 years of age causes negative dental effects like crooked teeth and malocclusion. Also, it is recommended to reduce the use of pacifiers after 10 months of age as it may increase the risk of middle ear infection.

How to keep the pacifiers clean and safe for my baby?

  • Till 6 months of age, it is mandatory to boil the pacifier before first use and let it completely cool before putting it in your baby’s mouth.
  • After 6 months, you can clean the pacifier with soap and water or in a dishwasher and allow your baby to use it.
  • Clean the pacifier with warm water between uses.
  • Do not share the pacifier among siblings.
  • If the pacifier falls down on the floor, do not put the pacifier in your own mouth to clean it as it causes transmission of infection.
  • Replace pacifiers every 1-2 months.
  • Immediately change the pacifier after your baby has recovered from an illness such as a cold or flu.
  • Carefully inspect the pacifier for holes or any damage. Replace the pacifier at the earliest sign of wear.
  • Keep the pacifiers in a clean box to keep it out of the sight of baby to avoid excessive usage of pacifiers.


A few common sense steps should be taken to enhance the benefits and reduce the risks of the use of pacifiers: 

  • First, talk to your Pediatric Dentist or Paediatrician about the safe use of pacifiers. 
  • Withhold the use of pacifiers until breastfeeding is established. After that, limit their use for soothing breastfed infants. 
  • Exercise judgment and restraint for pacifier use. Avoid on-demand use throughout the day. 
  • Clean pacifiers routinely and avoid sharing between siblings. Do not lick pacifiers to clean them. Always have several pacifiers to rotate through cycles of cleaning and use during the day. 
  • Pacifier use is curtailed beginning at 2 years of age and pacifier habits be discontinued by or before age 4 to minimize the development of malocclusion.

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