If you are expecting, or have a new baby, you have probably been inundated with advice from well-meaning friends and family. One topic that always seems to cause a stir, with various opinions offered, is whether or not to use a pacifier and how long to continue the use of bottles.

Good habits with bottles

Most dental professionals agree that the bottle should be taken away once it is no longer crucial for nutrition. Parents of toddlers may notice small white spots or lines on their child’s teeth. This is the beginning of early dental caries, or cavities. If left untreated, these spots or lines may develop into serious dental problems – even at a tender age.

The biggest cause of dental problems in young children is when a bottle with juice or milk is left in the bed with the child during the night. Doing so allows the sugars and carbohydrates in milk and juice to create cavity-causing bacteria that leads to tooth decay. It gives the bacteria hours to grow and cause dental problems that may put the child at a higher risk for life-long dental problems.

Most dental professionals agree that bottles should be discontinued once the child is able to drink from a sippy cup and can have proper nutrition from other foods.

Pacifiers can cause problems

It’s tempting to use a pacifier during the first few months of birth, but once using the pacifier has become a habit, it can be very difficult for the baby to go without it.

Long-term use of a pacifier can cause the front teeth to slant or tilt, as well as causing malocclusion of the teeth, sometimes known as “pacifier teeth.” Malocclusion is when the teeth are misaligned – or the teeth are not positioned correctly when the jaws are closed. This type of dental problem can lead to lengthy and expensive dental work later on. Constant pacifier use can also cause narrowing of the roof of the mouth.

Baby teeth need to stay healthy – and need to last!

Even though baby teeth are not permanent, they need to be healthy for several years. Some baby teeth remain until the child is a teenager. If they are not properly cared for from the start, dental problems can remain with the child into adulthood. If you decide to give your baby a pacifier, try to limit its use and discard it after the first few months. Using a bottle for nutrition is needed, of course, but to keep your child’s teeth healthy – don’t put your child to bed with a bottle. Wipe your child’s gums with a soft cloth after each feeding. The best way to keep your child’s teeth healthy is to teach them good dental hygiene at a young age.

Dental Health Associates

If you have any questions about pacifiers or bottles and their relation to your child’s teeth, please contact the professionals at Dental Health Associates of Madison. We would be happy to provide further information and to offer our dental services to you and your family.

Return to News