The truth about dummies

November 19th, 2014

It’s commonly stated that no one ever really feels ready for the arrival of their first child. Many expectant parents spend the months leading up to the birth reading up on what to expect, searching for information to make those first few months easier. Most of these manuals will consider the use of dummies, and provide an opinion as to whether pacifiers are harmful to tooth development, or a godsend in teaching infants to self-soothe. Today’s article gives the facts, and urges you to reconsider your dummy usage.

Fairly standard in appearance, dummies are rubber, plastic or silicone ‘nipples’ that are given to a baby to suck upon. Dummies generally feature a teat, mouth shield and handle. Featuring in history books as far as the 1400s, dummies are not a new fad: they are long established as a valuable tool in child rearing. The use of dummies appeals to the innate reflex that all babies are born with: the ability to suck and seek out nutrients needed for survival and development.

Many positives are cited when it comes to dummies. These pacifiers have long been stated to be a useful tool in soothing your baby, and teaching it to self-soothe: five minutes peace at last! By offering a dummy, you may be able to meet a baby’s excessive drive to suck, meaning it may be possible to satisfy your child without unnecessary breast or bottle feeding. It’s also easier to wean an infant off of sucking a dummy than sucking a thumb or finger.

Sounds great? Think again: for all the positives, there are a large number ‘cons’ to be aware of too: fundamentally the use of dummies can lead to problems in the alignment of teeth, which may need correcting later on through orthodontic work. Bottom and front teeth may start to tilt in, and the roof of the mouth and jaws could potentially become misaligned. These problems could be uncomfortable and time consuming to correct.

Although many suggest that there is a way to access the best of both worlds when it comes to dummies, the truth is that the most responsible course of action is not to use one at all. Of the orthodontic pacifiers on the market, those carrying the British Dental Health Foundation logo are the safest to go for, however the bottom line is that any dummy use at all could lead to teeth developing and growing in the wrong way, and out of the alignment they should be in.

Rearing a child is no easy task and using a dummy can often feel like straightforward way to a quieter life. On considering some of the key positives and negatives, we conclude that to give your child the best possible chance of a normally developed set of teeth, it is best to entirely avoid using dummies as part of your new parent tool-kit.

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