Breastfeeding your baby for as long as you both feel comfortable is beneficial for many reasons. In addition to providing ideal nutrients and antibodies for your baby, nursing allows you to build a stronger bond, reduces the risk of disease for you and your baby, and may reduce symptoms of post-partum depression. However, some parents worry that nursing causes tooth decay once a baby begins to teethe. Luckily, it's preventable.
Understand How Breastmilk Relates to Tooth Decay
Some people mistakenly believe that nursing a baby for too long is what causes cavities. The truth is that breastmilk alone is not the culprit. Often, small children who have cavities get them due to having too many sugary foods or drinks throughout the day or not properly cleaning their teeth. Unfortunately, some children are also just more susceptible to cavities, no matter what they eat. This is because some children naturally have increased levels of bacteria in their systems that cause decay, and weaning will not slow the process.
Care for Your Baby's Teeth
The best way to prevent tooth decay in your baby's mouth is to properly care for his or her teeth.
Before your baby has teeth, use a warm, soft cloth to gently wash his or her gums each evening. Once your baby begins teething, invest in a soft-bristled toothbrush made for infants and brush teeth once a day to remove plaque. Do not use toothpaste until the dentist recommends it.
Experts agree that a teething baby should have his or her first check-up with a pediatric dentist as soon as the first tooth appears. At the latest, schedule an appointment by your child's first birthday.
One of the biggest causes of tooth decay in babies is putting them to bed without brushing their teeth. This means that you should avoid nursing your baby to sleep since he or she will have milk resting on the teeth throughout the night. If your baby must take a bottle at bedtime, only fill it with water. This way, the teeth will remain clean throughout the night.
Take Care of Yourself as Well
Did you know that how well you take care of your own teeth affects your nursing baby's teeth? If you don't properly brush and floss your teeth, the bacteria in your mouth can move to other parts of your body and may be transmitted to your baby via your breastmilk. Taking care of your own dental health not only ensures your own health but the health of your child.
Does your baby have a tooth coming in? Now is the time to make his or her first dental appointment. Contact Pediatric Dental Group to schedule a visit and learn more about caring for your baby's first teeth.