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Dummy use in children

August 21, 2015

It seems you’re never more than a few clicks away from a story on the Beckhams on social media. If it’s not fashion or football related you can be sure the World Wide Web has something to say about family life. This week, Twitter has been buzzing with the revelation that Harper Beckham still uses a dummy at the age of four. The Daily Mail published images of their little girl sporting a pink pacifier, and was quick to enlist expert opinion on the matter. Parenting expert Clare Byam-Cook, said that the Beckhams were putting Harper’s wellbeing at risk. She said: ‘If she has a dummy in her mouth at this age, it really can damage her teeth and it is very likely to hinder speech development. You are far less likely to speak if you have a dummy in your mouth than if your mouth is free. Many dentists will agree that dummy use at this age really is not good. After about three months, most babies should not need a comforter’. While the backlash from parents on social media suggests there are strong arguments both for and against prolonged dummy use, here at Boyne we have decided to outline the facts.

When it comes to teeth, just how does extended dummy use cause damage?

The Over-bite

Frequent dummy use can cause alignment issues with children’s teeth. The result of which is known as an over-bite. This condition is often diagnosed by a simple dental evaluation. Sucking on a dummy for extended periods of time can cause the top incisors to protrude over their bottom counterpart, leading to an inability to bite down on back teeth and would increase the risk of needing a brace in later life. This condition can also be caused by extensive thumb sucking and many parents argue that a dummy is preferable in such circumstances, when soothing a child, as it can be phased out at a later date.

Delay the arrival of adult teeth

When children begin to lose their baby teeth at around the age of seven, if they’re still using a pacifier it can significantly delay the arrival of their permanent set. If prevented, adult teeth will not descend in order and this can lead to spacing issues and crowding. Such problems make it harder to brush teeth and maintain good oral health.

So what’s the solution? No dummy? The NHS agrees that dummies are useful when it comes to helping with feeding of premature babies and as an aid for soothing before 6 months, However, they warn that they may also affect the way teeth grow or lead to dribbling and breathing issues.

It is advised that: parents cut down dummy use; if your child has a dummy at bedtime, it is taken it away once he / she is asleep; dummy use should cease by 6 months of age (before teeth grow and speech starts to develop); A feeder cup, rather than bottle is introduced at around 6 – 8 months and parents are warned to “never dip the dummy in anything sweet” as this can lead to tooth decay.

If you have any teeth alignment issues relating to dummy use as a child or are concerned for your children do get in touch. We are more than happy to advise and suggest if further investigation is needed.

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