Pacifiers and bottles are bad for teeth, but sometimes they may seem like a necessity. In this article I would like to speak a little about what kind of problems these very useful (and often indispensable) devices can cause, and how you can reverse and negate the damage.
The effect that pacifiers have on teeth
When entered into the mouth, bottles and pacifiers will push teeth inwards. The breast is a soft thing, and will become painful if left in for too long, whilst a pacifier can be left in indefinitely, as there are no nerve endings in it. Because of this, infants and babies tend to suck on the pacifier for longer, which exerts pressure on newly growing teeth. Some infants may use it as a part of soothing themselves to sleep, and in general just to soothe themselves, and many of them have the pacifier in their mouth at all times. This causes bottle mouth, with the teeth sticking inwards, which is not a natural alignment for teeth, and can cause complications. Be aware that using a pacifier does not always cause this to happen, but it is just very likely.
Bottle mouth creates cross bite and crowding, both of which are orthodontic problems. The condition can cause the teeth to grow in at an angle, making it very hard to put the teeth back into place properly. Usually orthodontic treatment will do the trick. Depending on what angle the pacifier is in (some children suck the pacifier at an angle rather than straight), the device can also create crowding and shifting in just one direction or in one place. This can cause teeth to turn as well, which requires very special orthodontic treatment, and this treatment is often more tedious and less pleasant than regular.
Dental hygiene issues
Bottle rot is a condition that is caused by bottles and pacifiers. The bacteria can live on the plastic surfaces, but not for long, so they love to transfer to the teeth and from the teeth back to the pacifier. This way they can reinfect and reintroduce themselves to a problem are over and over again. While pacifiers do not usually cause tooth decay because of this (although they are perfectly able to), bottles, which usually contain either water, in which bacteria can breed, or milk, formula or breastmilk, which the oral bacteria actually love and can thrive on. Bottles also frequently have juice or sugary tea in them, and this is also great for bacteria to live in.
Getting around the problem
Pacifiers are used because of adults, and not children. By introducing it, you may get temporary peace of mind, but you are doing harm, and should not use a pacifier. As for bottles, some children eat formula, and that’s fine, the bottle cannot and should not be avoided. However, once the child is big enough to hold a cup, start feeding them from a cup. This will not cause bottle rot. At first, have only one meal from the cup, then two, and then even snacks and everything else can be from the cup. Once the teeth start coming in, you should consider getting rid of the bottle.