Whenever a little one's pacifier drops on the floor, parents and caregivers have a choice. Do you rinse it in hot water? Clean it with a sanitizing wipe? Put in your own mouth? Rely on the five second rule?
The North Carolina Dental Society says parents should not use their own mouths to clean a baby's pacifier, because their saliva can pass along harmful bacteria that could lead to tooth decay.
“Many parents don’t realize that adult saliva contains a variety of microorganisms which may be harmful to health,” says Greensboro pediatric dentist Dr. Scott Cashion. “Licking a pacifier can transfer bacteria, especially some forms of streptococcus, that may increase the infant’s chance of developing tooth decay as they grow.”
The warning from the society comes after a recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics that said parents cleaning pacifiers with their mouths could actually help the baby. The authors of the study “Pacifier Cleaning Practices and Risk of Allergy Development" concluded parents saliva could help jump start a baby's immune system and make them less likely to develop allergies.
However, Dr. Cashion says the immunological benefits of adult saliva is limited.
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