Dummy use and Oral Health - A Guide for Parents
The use of a dummy only becomes problematic if it is used frequently for prolonged periods of time and should be stopped before a child is 3 years of age.
Extensive dummy use can affect the way that a child’s teeth grow and can cause an open-bite as the teeth move to make space. Make sure that you visit the dentist as soon as your child’s first tooth comes through and brush them twice a day and floss as soon as they have 2 teeth in contact with another.
There are some positive benefits of using a dummy such as the soothing effect of the action of sucking and the comfort that it brings to a baby.
Sometimes when you have a crying baby, nothing else appears to work as well as a dummy. Using a dummy as an occasional comforter is fine but can be problematic with extended and prolonged use.
There is also some research that suggest that using a dummy when putting baby down to sleep could reduce the risk of sudden infant death. If you are using a dummy it is recommended that you do not use one until baby is around 1 month old.
Do’s and don’ts when using a dummy
· If your child drops their dummy, do not sanitise it by popping it into your own mouth. By doing this you could pass on your germs, bacteria and viruses directly to babies mouth. If it is dropped a good rinse under warm water is usually sufficient
· Do not dip the dummy into anything especially sugary as this can lead to tooth decay and cavities
· Do buy your dummy for a reputable brand. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on it and there is no benefit from buying the most expensive one
· Do not use a dummy which is tied to baby using a neck cord.
· Do introduce the dummy at regular times when you put baby down for a sleep either during the day or at night. If the dummy falls out of baby’s mouth, there is no need to put it back in
Dummy use and oral health
The use of a dummy only becomes problematic if it is used frequently for prolonged periods of time and should be stopped before a child is 3 years of age. Extensive dummy use can affect the way that a child’s teeth grow and can cause an open-bite as the teeth move to make space. Make sure that you visit the dentist as soon as your child’s first tooth comes through and brush them twice a day and floss as soon as they have 2 teeth in contact with another
Dummy use and language development
To develop speech, babies and young children need to explore a range of mouth movements, e.g. opening and closing the mouth, smiling, sticking their tongue out. Using a dummy can limit these movements. Children learn words by listening and copying others and a dummy can prevent a child from copying the words and sounds.
How to wean your child off a dummy
Try to wean your baby/child off a dummy when they are approximately 12-18 months and starting to babble. You can either do this in stages or make a clean break.
- · If a dummy is being used as a sleep cue, then introducing a different sleep cue can help.
- · Restrict dummy use to certain times of the day rather than providing it out of habit
- · Rewards might work better for older children
- · Pick a good time to stop dummy use, when your child is feeling well, things are stable and they’re happy
- · Try to hide the dummy away so your child doesn’t see it
- · Prepare older children by reading books about getting rid of the dummy, try ‘The last Noo-Noo,’ by Jill Murphy or ‘No More Dummy,’ by Bernette Ford and Sam Williams
- · Give the dummy to the ‘dummy fairy.’ This might help to make a clean break, especially in return for a small present
- · As a last resort, if your child is extremely distressed, let them have the dummy to soothe them and then remove the dummy. Do not leave it in their mouth.
- By Karen Green, Little Trees Cheltenham Nurseries Manager