Baby Pacifiers and Germs


True or false: If your baby drops a pacifier, it is okay to clean it with your saliva before putting it back in his/her mouth.

Saliva harbors cavity-causing bacteria
The American Dental Association (ADA) is concerned that the bacteria that may cause dental decay can be transmitted from adult to child if the parent or caregiver sucks on the baby’s pacifier to clean it. This could also happen if they share an eating utensil. The ADA reports that children’s teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they begin to erupt. Since cavity-causing bacteria can be transferred through adult saliva, children may be at increased risk of developing cavities when adult saliva enters their mouths.

Saliva may assist with immunological development
A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics counters this idea. Researchers discovered that infants whose parents sucked on their pacifiers to clean them developed fewer allergies and signs of asthma; lower rates of eczema and smaller amounts of a white blood cell type that thrives on allergies and other disorders.

Concerns about germs and pacifiers
WebMD reports on a study conducted at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. Of 10 used pacifiers studied, five were slightly contaminated by germs and the other five were heavily contaminated. Of the 10 used, and the addition of 7 new pacifiers (17 total), they found more than 40 different species of bacteria. However, the study didn’t research whether any babies got sick from dirty pacifiers. The used pacifiers were taken from healthy infants.

Learn more from this story about parents’ saliva and the connection to babies’ allergies.