A pacifier is a rubber or silicone nipple given to an infant as a replacement of mother’s sore nipple and helps the baby to relax and fall asleep. It is also used to prevent or stop the thumb sucking habit of the baby.
The thumb/pacifier sucking are considered normal during the first and second year of life. Such a habit will disappear as the child matures. The habit at this age does not cause any malocclusion. The process of sucking is a reflex occurring in the oral stage of development and is seen till the age of 3. If it continues beyond 3 years, malocclusion of teeth will result.
Recent studies state that the use of pacifiers cause ear infections, one of the reasons could be the change in pressure between the middle ear and upper throat. The sucking pressure may bring up the bacteria from the throat and could infect the middle ear.
Prevention of this habit is very important for child’s oral and psychological development. Parents play a major role to help the child get away from this habit. Motivation and child’s engagement in various activities and parent’s involvement in prevention will help the child to prevent the habit of using pacifiers.
It is always better not to use a pacifier and if it is used, it is the responsibility of the parent to prevent its use at the right age to avoid any adverse effects caused by it.