What and why you should know about pacifier design
by Dr. Dave Tesini, Pediatric Dentist, dad of 3, grandfather of 3
Pacifiers can be a parent’s best helper if used in the right situation, introduced at the right time and designed properly for the baby’s mouth. Some babies are introduced to pacifiers soon after birth and they are started on a simple one-piece generic bulb, often provided by the hospital.
Early introduction is often advised. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages the use of pacifiers at bed and naptime because it can reduce the incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). However, mothers who are breastfeeding are often advised to wait on starting a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established.
Pacifier design can range from a single piece made from medical grade silicone to others made by combining a shield and bulb attached strongly together as one unit. The shield is often fashionably designed but should always be sized properly to the baby’s face. Shields that block or obstruct the nose could obstruct breathing and will likely be uncomfortable.
When Pediatric dentists help the baby product companies to design pacifier bulbs they are thinking about how it fits in the palate. The pacifier design must be able to support the palate so that the cheek muscles don’t push it inward during sucking. A narrow palate can lead to tooth crowding and costly orthodontic problems later in life.
The Doctor Is In
David A. Tesini, DMD, MS is a pediatric dentist and Associate Clinical Professor at Tufts University, School of Dental Medicine where he teaches in the Pediatric Dentistry Department. He was the first Associate-Chief-Dentist of Tufts Dental Facilities serving Patients with Special Needs. Dr. Tesini serves as a Medical Advisor to Smilo. He has served in various capacities for statewide and national organizations including appointments as Chairman of the Massachusetts Dental Society’s Council on Dental Health and as past President of the American Academy of Dentistry for Persons with Disabilities. Most recently he was elected to the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
He is the founder and past president of Project Stretch: Dentistry Reaching Out to Children, a non-profit foundation providing free dental care to children around the world. Over 20,000 children have received preventive dental care since 1988.
Dr. Tesini is co-founder of TWI, LLC a product development company that designs, patents and licenses innovations that are “based in science” for the baby product industry. He has authored chapters in dental textbooks, published over 20 articles in refereed scientific journals and holds the prestigious Fellowship of Dental Surgery in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Scotland.
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