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Does a soother harm your baby? What to look out for to ensure the proper jaw development of your child

When your child is born, their skull is not completely formed. The bones that make up the skull and the jaw are soft in places, and can move around. It will take months before these bones become more solid and fuse together, and during this time there are many factors that can affect the correct development of the skull, jaws and teeth.

Some developmental factors are hard to control, like genetics, but only 20% of developmental defects are inborn, many others can be prevented if you know what to look out for.

Here is a breakdown of the key factors that can influence the development of your child’s jaws, teeth and palate – the parts that we as a dental company take special interest in.

Understanding breathing and tongue posture

Notice how your baby breathes, especially during sleep. Normally, babies will breathe through their nose – this is one of the signs that the jaw and palate are developing in a healthy way.

❌ Mouth breathing: Tongue rests lower, touching the bottom of mouth; mouth is open; jaw grows vertically.
✅ Nasal breathing: Tongue rests on the roof of the mouth; mouth is closed; jaw develops properly.

Tongue posture influences on the development of jaws and palate. Depending on where tongue rests (when a child isn’t eating or speaking), it can either expand or narrow the palate and jaws.

✅ When the tongue rests on the roof of the mouth it promotes the correct jaw development. Tongue creates enough pressure to expand the upper jaw leaving space for all teeth. A properly developed jaw promotes a healthy facial growth from both functional and aesthetic point of view.

❌ When tongue rests lower, the upper jaw doesn’t expand and there is not enough room for all teeth. As a result, the teeth are misaligned and will require orthodontic treatment later on.

A quick test: swallowing isn’t as simple as it seems

As adults, we take swallowing for granted. But when you stop to think about what swallowing actually involves, you’ll realise that this is a complex action – and it’s one that a child has to learn how to do.

Close your eyes and concentrate on your tongue. Notice how it rests loosely behind the front teeth. This is the tongue’s natural resting position.

Now, chew a piece of food and, when you’re ready to swallow, observe the following:

Firstly, the tip of the tongue touches the front of the palate and the food is pushed backwards. Then the back of the tongue presses against the hard palate – the roof of the mouth – and the food slides further backwards.

Now, the soft palate – the area at the back of the roof of the mouth – performs an incredible feat. It is pulled upwards, closing the nasopharynx (the upper part of the throat) and is simultaneously pulled downwards.

At the same time, the epiglottis – the flap of tissue behind the tongue that prevents food entering your airway – opens, and the food slides down into the gullet.

The tongue and palate can now relax once more until it’s time for the next bite.

👉 Generally, using a proper dummy that promotes nasal breathing greatly improves the quality of sleep and ensures the correct development of the palate and upper jaw. The dummy needs to be biofunctional and have a soft flat tip. Our own Curaprox Baby Soother was designed with these requirements in mind.

Picking the right soother

There are a few guidelines for picking a soother that will stimulate the proper development of jaws and teeth. Our own Curaprox Baby Soother series was designed with these guidelines in mind, and we recommend these products – chosen according to the correct size for their child – to all parents.

Soothers Q&A

What is the best time to start using a soother?

It is safe to start using a soother from around day 5 to 15 after birth, provided that you use the correct size. However, you should establish breastfeeding first, and use soothers later. 

How do I prepare a soother?

Before its first use, keep the soother in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then let the soother completely cool off and dry out. After each use, thoroughly wash the soother in warm water with mild soap. 

How do I know when to give my baby a soother?

If your baby is wanting to suck on something, check that there is no other underlying reason. First, check that the baby is not hungry. After 9–10 months, if your child asks for a soother, this might be a sign they are stressed, tired or bored. It makes sense to identify and address these issues first.

Can I give the child a soother and go about my day?

No. A soother is not a replacement for the comfort of a parent’s cuddle and touch. Make sure you are there for your child, hold them in your arms and make them comfortable, and keep them by your side as much as possible in the first months of their life. Also note that using a soother permanently throughout the days can slow down the development of the jaw and teeth.

Does a soother promote or interfere with speech development?

A proper soother with a soft flexible flat tip helps a baby develop proper swallowing habits. Since babies swallow differently to adults, proper swallowing takes them some time to learn. In turn, proper swallowing helps prevent problems with speech development, so using a properly-designed soother helps prevent speech problems later in life.

Improper soothers (for example, with cherry-shaped tips) can interfere with swallowing and the development of the tongue and palate, all of which contributes to problems with speech later in life.

Can we fix damage that has been done by an improper soother?

Some damage can be fixed with orthodontic treatment. However, it is always advised to focus on prevention rather than treatment. 

Can I make a soother at home? Or use other objects?

No. Homemade soothers can be dangerous to your child. For example, a nipple from a feeding bottle, when used as a soother, has caused many cases of suffocation. It takes a lot of design and research to make a soother safe for your child.

Any household materials can potentially harm your child if used as a soother for a prolonged period of time.

Can I dip the soother in honey or sugar before use?

You definitely shouldn’t. Honey can cause severe poisoning in babies, and all sugary substances are a direct threat to their dental health. Babies don’t need sugar on soothers. 

The Curaprox Soother

• Soft silicone imitates the natural feel of a nipple, and promotes swallowing
• A flat tip to prevent an open bite and allow for proper development of the palate
• A rounded arch-like shape to prevent misalignment of teeth
• Promotes breathing through the nose
• Three different sizes, to perfectly fit your child
• Biofunctional, toxin-free and safe
• Compatible with the Curaprox Soother Holder

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Can I put a soother on a string round the child’s neck?

Definitely not. Nothing should be tied round a child’s neck at any time. Have the soother in a holder somewhere out of reach of the child when not in use. Never tie anything to your child’s neck – a string tied around the neck can cause suffocation and death. 

If you need to secure a soother, the Curaprox Soother Holder can be a suitable aid. The holder and the accompanying cord are designed to be safe for your baby.

Is it okay for a child to walk around all day with a soother in their mouth?

Most likely – no. Walking or crawling around means you have a toddler. Using a soother at this age will likely cause problems with their teeth and interfere with the development of their speech. 

Walking with a soother is also dangerous: if a child trips or falls, there is risk of choking or suffocation.

Is it ok if my child bites on the soother?

No. As your child grows, they become strong enough to bite off pieces of their soothers, which can cause choking. If they are starting to bite the soother, it is time for them to stop using it. 

When should the baby give up the soother?

Up until 9 months, using a soother can be indispensable for your child.

After 9 months, the child loses their natural urge to suck, but they can still have a strong habit of sucking for comfort. However, giving it up should be a natural process. Most babies naturally give up sucking before they turn 3 years old.

Never use pressure or humiliation to make a child give up their soother. It is recommended to reward your child when they decide to give up soothers.

How do I know when it’s time to replace a soother?

You’ll need to replace a soother every two months for hygienic reasons. However, if you see tears or cracks in the soother before that, replace the soother immediately.