Parents are often concerned when newborns and young children use pacifiers.  They do not need to.  Sucking is a natural instinct for newborns serving the need for feeding.  It is a reflex in the beginning, but after a few months it becomes a voluntary behavior that seems to disappear around the age of 3,5.  As all instincts, every time it is satisfied, it gives great pleasure to the child.  Some newborns satisfy this instinct with a few minutes during feeding, while others need more time.  This need leads to non-nutritive sucking, thumb or pacifier sucking.  Between the two, the pacifier is a much better choice.

The new designs of pacifiers have less effect on the growing oral tissues, a pacifier is not always available as a thumb is, more than 90% of the children who use pacifiers will quit the habit before they become 3,5 years and almost all (98%) before the age of 5 allowing growth to resolve most of the pacifier effect.  However, the thumb sucking habit may persist until 5 (20 -25%) or 6 (10 – 15%) or even beyond this age, not allowing growth to correct the effect of thumb-sucking.  As such, parents should be at peace if children use pacifiers until the age of 3,5.  After this age they should seek the expertise of a paediatric dentist who will assess the situation and advise accordingly. 

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