Teeth and baby dummies
Being a parent is hard. There is so much to think about. One thing that might not be at the fore of your mind when your baby is a newborn is their teeth. The decision to give a baby a dummy is entirely a personal preference for you family. This post is not about making any feel they are doing the wrong thing or making poor choices. What it is about is setting out some things to think about around dummies so you can make more of an informed decision.
For any babies sucking a dummy, or thumb, can help relax and settle them.
For many children, sucking a dummy can cause changes to the teeth and jaws. The earlier the dummy is taken away the more likely it is that the teeth and the jaws will grow without issues.
One golden rule though – never put anything sweet on a dummy as this can cause severe tooth decay very quickly.
Problems caused by dummies
Long-term dummy use may lead to:
- incorrect positioning of teeth – upper teeth may be pushed further forward than is ideal, or the top and bottom front teeth may not touch. This can change the way the teeth meet when the child bites and can also affect speech development, especially s and z sounds
- mouth breathing – your child may tend to breathe through their mouth rather than their nose.
- speech and language problems – having a dummy in the mouth may delay children using sounds to communicate, and prevent them from exploring the full range of tongue movements required to make all the speech sounds
- tooth decay (especially the front teeth) – if the dummy is dipped in sugary substances such as honey or jam.
Encourage your child to stop dummy use
Like all things with children it can help if the child is involved in the decision. We encourage you to avoid using shame or guilt as this can cause other issues. Many children will decide to stop sucking a dummy between two and four. There is no reason you can’t start the process earlier if you are concerned. Dummy use during play can also stop babbling which is important for speech development.
Avoid trying to stop dummy use suddenly, as it can lead to other oral habits such as thumb or finger sucking.
You might start by limiting the use of the dummy, for example only using it at sleep times or at night time. Give plenty of encouragement and persist gently but firmly. It may take several attempts before the habit is completely broken. Try to be patient. The first few days without a dummy are likely to be the most difficult. It may be that you need to think outside the box, we have heard rumour of a dummy-fairy who can come
While every child is different, if they are still sucking a dummy when they start primary school, it might be time to seek some help. We are here to check your child’s teeth and provide some tips about how to get rid of the dummy.