Busy moms and dads rejoiced recently with the release of a Swedish study indicating that “cleaning” a pacifier with a good lick could actually be good for little ones. We’ve all seen it, and many of us have actually done it. The scenario goes a little something like this: The baby’s soothing tool falls on the floor, a parent quickly scoops it up (the five-second rule surely comes into play here), pops it in their mouth for a quick “rinse,” and then gently reinserts the pacifier into Junior’s mouth before the meltdown begins. No harm, no foul, and with recent research suggesting that it could benefit baby’s health, parents around the globe are patting themselves on the back. But not everyone is jumping on this bandwagon, with critics screaming, “Put the pacifier down!”
The controversy began over a small study where 184 Swedish babies participated. The research was recently published in the medical journal, Pediatrics, and claims that babies whose parents sucked on their pacifiers to clean them were significantly less likely to develop two allergy based conditions, eczema and asthma. While this seems like great news to on-the-go parents, the American Dental Association (ADA) warns that this practice does carry some risk. According to the ADA, licking a pacifier could transfer the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay between parents and children. A recent ADA News article further explains the concern, with Dr. Jonathan Shenkin explaining that a child’s teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they erupt. Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Maine and the pediatric dental spokesperson for the ADA claims there are better ways to boost the immune systems of our kids than by using our saliva. Both the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that breast milk is a great immunity-builder as well as the most complete form of nutrition for infants, for example. The ADA recommends that parents do all they can to protect the dental health of their kids by promoting good dental hygiene habits and a healthy diet. It is also recommended that children visit the dentist shortly after their first tooth buds and no later than one year of age.