Pretty much every baby will be given a dummy when they are first born. It’s a source of comfort, and can help soothe an unsettled baby (and give mom and dad’s ears a break from the crying!)
However, problems can arise if your baby turns into a toddler with teeth, and they’re still using a dummy. Their teeth will come in, but they will sit around the dummy, instead of growing into a natural position. We call this an open bite, and it can limit functionality of the teeth. We always recommend getting rid of bottles and dummies as soon as possible, when their first teeth come through, to prevent this from happening. But sometimes, this is easier said than done.
Dummies or pacifiers are a calming or comforting tool which over time becomes a habit. Kids usually grow out of it or stop it with the encouragement of their parents. Some things that can make it hard to ditch the dummy are: having younger siblings who also use a dummy, having multiple dummies around the house or if a big event is happening in the child’s life, for example, health problems and the dummy is used as a comforting tool.
First, start limiting it’s use. Only use it at bed times, and instead of using it as a tool to quieten a tantrum, use it for comfort only.
Then, start taking it out once they’ve fallen asleep. They won’t notice it being taken away.
Eventually, they should fall asleep on their own. But be wary not to replace the dummy with a bottle. This could lead to bottle caries and you can read the blog about it here: https://www.halesowendental.co.uk/tips-and-tricks-for-your-childs-oral-health/
Eventually, the plan is that they won’t ask for a dummy or need it.
However, this doesn’t always work with some children, so another idea could be that you get them to leave their dummy for Santa, or the Easter Bunny, in exchange for a new toy or small gift.
Longterm use of a dummy can mean that your child’s mouth muscles do not develop properly. Imagine not being able to swallow and chew your food properly like everyone else. When these important muscles aren’t trained and developed properly from an early age, the tongue position is also affected and it tends to sit in between the teeth. This affects the teeth and they start to protrude forward, many know this as “Buck Teeth”. Research shows that sucking a dummy changes the shape of the mouth. When children are young, their bone is very soft and is susceptible to changes. Changes can come about from daily habits. When a dummy is used consistently over a long period of time it can damage the shape of the soft bone and this creates a certain “look”. Many mums and dads refer to this as a Dummy Overbite. This change can be permanent if this habit continues as the child gets older and can affect the adult teeth as well. If you think your child’s dummy habit has affected their mouth and face, here are some signs to look for: