By Dr Maria Theologides
Some mothers claim that nobody told them. Others say they never saw the warnings on the box and others still defend the use of pacifiers because their mothers and grandmothers recommended it – allowing for greater peace and quiet.
We learn by conditioning and it starts very early. The first pressure is that our babies are not allowed to cry – ever. The second is that if they cry, we are bad parents – looked down upon by family and strangers. The third is that if the child is happy, why mess with something that appears to work?
So, in order not to damage our children’s psyche and not to upset ourselves and others, we fall prey to a negative behavior that, once established, is very often difficult to break – usually resulting in greater stress to the child and parent.
The first negative effect of dummy-sucking is the slow but sure movements of the maxillary incisors outwards towards the lip. As the sucking continues, the further the teeth move forward until a discrepancy appears between the lower and upper teeth and the lip starts to “curl” up, not closing over the teeth.
As time passes, the effect becomes aesthetically noticeable, but more importantly as the child is also growing, the growth takes place, so to speak, around the dummy – with the result: that the palate becomes more arched and the upper jaw becomes narrower. Long term that affects both the sinus and the pattern of breathing and of course aesthetics
Once a child passes the 3 year mark with a pacifier at hand, you know your chances of separating child from dummy have just doubled in difficulty and the negative consequences are more difficult to reverse.
So, what is the solution? For those pregnant, or just having had a baby – please don’t use a pacifier. It may mean more frequent feeds initially or more time spent entertaining – but long term you’ll be thankful.
If you got Bart Simpsons baby sitter in your home, then try initially to limit the time the pacifier is in the mouth. Ie: avoid plugging up the child during the day and use it only at times of sleep and once asleep – remove the pacifier from the child’s mouth. The less time the pacifier is in the child’s mouth, the less will be the damage, short term and long term.
If your child is older than 2 years old and feels the pacifier is it’s soul mate, try a technique that I find works beautifully with the smart children of this generation: Explain to your child that little fairies love swinging in the wind and that the best swing for a fairy is made by using colorful ribbons and hanging the pacifiers on a tree.
This will allow the child to feel they are doing something positive and wonderful by giving a tiny little fairy the gift of a / many swings. So the child is still able to view the treasured dummies on the tree in the garden or the park but know that they are being used for something special!
Try it, you will be surprised how well it works and ofcourse, don’t replace the dummies you’ve “given away”.
Good luck. If you have any other dental queries or concerns, please feel free to call or email me.