I have been working in the dental industry for nearly 25 years and I have been an Oral Health Therapist for nearly 13 years, so I like to think I know a thing or two about dummies and oral health. Before I became a mother, I swore my children would have dummies. But when my first boy was born just under 9pounds, almost demanding a Bacon Double Cheeseburger, I changed my mind pretty quickly. Let’s have a practical and anecdotal look at what happens when you choose to use a dummy for your baby.
In my experience, I would prefer to see a baby sucking a dummy, rather than a finger or thumb, any day. A child can be weaned off a dummy… not so easy to remove a thumb or finger! The Australian Dental Society agrees that the use of dummies in babies and small children is an acceptable practice and use of dummies up until the age of 3 doesn’t cause any permanent issues with jaw and teeth positioning.
The use of dummies can also help in increasing suckling strength in premature children and I found that my twins that were born at 33 weeks, benefited greatly from the use of a dummy. For us, using a dummy right from the start, meant that our premmies were strong enough to breastfeed after only a few days and we only spent 3 weeks in the special care nursery because they were strong enough to breastfeed confidently so quickly. I firmly believe that if we didn’t use dummies, our premmies wouldn’t have been able to breastfeed so well, so quickly.
What types of dummies are available?
In my experience, the type of dummy used makes a HUGE difference. There are a few types of dummies available, so let's have a quick look at the pros and cons of each of them.
1. JollyPop makes really nice dummies specifically designed for premmies and micro-premmies. JollyPops are generally the go-to dummy used in hospitals around the world and it’s easy to see why. They are 100% silicone, easy to sterilize, small teats that mimic both the natural nipple and bottles. They also have a hole in the back of them, making administering medications so much easier. I loved these dummies and we used them for over a year with our twins.
2. Orthodontic teat dummies are the next best choice.
They have flat, tapered teats that closely resemble the natural nipple and bottles and they minimise the opening of the teeth in the front of the mouth, leading to less orthodontic issues in the future. Our go to orthodontic dummy for all of our children was the Philips Avent Orthodontic Pacifier, which you can find here https://www.philips.com.au/c-p/SCF220_21/avent-ultra-soft-pacifier
are my absolute most hated dummy. The super large teat on them causes the most jaw and dental related issues, in my personal experience, and I would advise anyone to steer well clear of them. I’m not even going to post a link to buy them because I am so strongly against them.
Latex vs silicone
Dummies usually have a plastic or silicone mouth shield and handle with either a latex or silicone teat. Latex dummies are usually softer than silicone, but don’t last as long and are obviously not suitable for little ones with latex allergies.
There is growing evidence that if a dummy is used correctly and consistently once breastfeeding is established, the risk of Sudden Infant Death may decline. Here is some tips for safe dummy usage:
Check the teat by pulling firmly and checking if there are any holes, bite marks or tears - if the teat is damaged or pulls away from the handle, throw it away and do not use
Keep the dummies out of sunlight as it can cause the teat to deteriorate
Wash dummies in hot soapy water and follow manufacturers instructions when sterilising
Keep clean dummies on hand and do not clean the teat with your mouth. If the dummy is dropped or dirty, wash the dummy in running water, do not suck or lick the dummy yourself. The bacteria in your mouth can be transmitted to your child if you suck or lick the dummy
Never dip dummies into honey or other substances at this can lead to tooth decay
Only ever use dummy chains that adhere to safety standards and never use ribbons or string that can be a strangulation hazard
So, in summary, I have no issues with the use of dummies in babies and children up to the age of 3. In my personal experience, I have not witnessed any prolonged or permanent damage to teeth or jaws with children that have used dummies. I prefer the use of dummies over thumbs or fingers for soothing as dummies can be removed, thumbs can not :)
Hope this helps with your decision in the use of dummies. If you found this useful, please share with your loved ones and subscribe to receive the latest On a Mother's Mind blog direct to your inbox.
Love you all, Dee