How do you clean your child’s pacifier when it falls on the floor or comes into contact with some other dirty surface? The method you choose could have a much bigger impact on your child’s dental health than you might have thought.
The Problem with Pacifiers
The rough and ready pacifier cleaning method that is used by many parents – sucking or licking the dirt off the pacifier before giving it back to the child – could expose young children to a much higher risk of dental decay. The American Dental Association has officially warned parents not to attempt to clean pacifiers in this way because of the potential risks.
What’s the Risk?
The problem with using your own saliva to remove dirt from a pacifier is that you can transfer dangerous bacteria to your baby. Many adults have bacterial species in their mouths that can aggressively attack teeth, leading to cavities. If the bacteria are transferred into a baby’s mouth, they can start to attack teeth as soon as they emerge, leading to decay, toothache, and possibly even gum disease in later life.
Don’t Put Your Child’s Pacifier in Your Mouth
You should avoid putting a pacifier into your own mouth. Not only do you run the risk of exposing your baby to dangerous oral bacteria, but your saliva is also likely to have little effect on any germs from the floor. You will not be protecting your baby, but rather putting it at even greater risk.
Better Ways of Cleaning a Pacifier
There are many safe ways to clean a pacifier. Sterilizing solution is one option, or you can use a disinfectant wipe designed for use with infant toys and accessories. You can even use a dishwasher to keep some types of pacifiers clean and sanitary.
One tip from parents is to always take at least two pacifiers out with you on any outing. When your child drops or dirties their pacifier, you can then immediately replace it with a clean one, therefore keeping your infant safe from germs and bacteria.