Sucking is an instinctive action in the baby from birth and is essential for its survival. This sucking habit will gradually disappear as milk teeth erupt, and the baby adopts chewing patterns.
An innate réflex
The pacifier is considered a non-nutritive sucking habit and there is no definitive evidence for or against its use in babies, nor is there a clear age for its abandonment, depending on various conditions of the child.
Until when can children carry a pacifier?
The use of pacifiers in children who already have teeth should gradually disappear. Those sucking habits that last after 2-3 years are more associated with malocclusions, both at the dental level and at the level of the maxillary and mandible bones.
Prolonged use of the pacifier can cause dental problems. The effects that the pacifier can have on the teeth and on the craniofacial development of the child will vary depending on the frequency of the habit, the intensity, the time it has been established, the type of facial musculature, the genetic predisposition or the growth pattern.
The dental and skeletal sequelae associated with prolonged use of a pacifier beyond 3 years could be:
– Anterior open bite: the upper and lower anterior teeth do not come into contact because the pacifier gets between the two arches. In this case, if the habit is abandoned, the teeth can be returned to their natural position.
– Posterior crossbite: the pacifier leaves the tongue in a lower position and prevents it from exerting the necessary stimulus on the palate for the maxilla to develop correctly. The result is an insufficient development of the breadth of the maxilla. To compensate for the lack of development, it will be necessary to perform an expansion of the palate by means of appliances.
The specialist’s advice
In general, it is recommended that any child who persists with an oral habit, such as pacifier or finger sucking, beyond 3-4 years of age or has an incorrect bite pattern, go to a specialized orthodontic clinic or dental clinic child, where the case will be evaluated individually, and the parents will be informed of the consequences of the habit, as well as the need for when would be the most convenient moment to start a treatment.
In our website you will obtain more information on frequently asked questions for the maintenance of healthy teeth of your children.