Dummies increase likelihood of crooked teeth

Babies who are given pacifiers/dummies and bottle fed are twice as likely to have misaligned milk or "baby" teeth as babies who are breastfed, suggests research in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Milk teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth, but the positioning and spacing of these teeth is increasingly thought to be crucial for correct jaw alignment and positioning of permanent teeth.

The findings are based on the detailed feeding histories and sucking patterns of 1099 children aged between 3 and 5 years of age. All the children's mouths were also examined by a dentist.

Over a third of the children had misalignments and poor spacing (altered occlusion). The front teeth of one in eight (13%) children didn't touch, a condition known as anterior open bite. And 7% had "posterior cross bite" when the top back teeth bite inside the bottom back teeth.

Children who sucked on dummies/pacifiers or thumbs ("non-nutritive sucking") were twice as likely to have misalignment as those who did not. And they were four times as likely to have open bite.

How the children were fed in the first few months of their lives had no impact on the development of open bite

But posterior cross bite was significantly more common in children who were bottle fed as well as in those who sucked on pacifiers or thumbs. Breastfeeding seemed to protect against the development of posterior cross bite, even when children sucked on pacifiers or thumbs.

The authors speculate that the sucking mechanism for breast and bottle feeding is different, and that this affects the development of the muscles of the mouth and face, and the palate

The evidence suggests that while open bite spontaneously resolves once children stop sucking on pacifiers or thumbs, posterior cross bite persists, they add.

Dr Domenico Viggiano, Local Health Unit (ASL SA 1), Salerno, Campania, Italy
Tel: +39 33 55 38 48 23
Email: [email protected]
Professor Laura Strohmenger, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
Tel: +39 (0) 25 03 19 000 (between 0900 h and 1600 h)
Email: [email protected]

Click here to view the paper in full


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