Breastfeeding and Infant Oral Health
Welcoming a newborn into the world is exciting for the whole family, but as most new mothers know, breastfeeding and teething will be a part of your immediate focus. Being a new mother might mean you’ll take part in breastfeeding your newborn, and although it is one of the healthiest ways for a baby to receive its nutrition, you may still see the merits of a bottle-fed plan. No matter what, your little one’s oral health should be of great concern during this time.
WHY BREAST FEEDING IS IMPORTANT
Breast milk isn’t just easier for your baby to digest, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); it’s also more readily accessible than a store-bought formula. In addition:
- It needs no preparation
- It contains all the nutrients an infant needs
- It has many components that formula does not; breast milk helps to protect your baby from many diseases and infections
Infancy Oral care
While most babies don’t start getting teeth until they are 6 months old, infant dental care is important from the very beginning. Many dentists recommend an initial visit before the child’s first birthday to make sure teeth and gums are cared for and cleaned properly.
- Teething– between 3 and 9 months, your infant’s baby teeth will begin to erupt. Teething may make your child irritable or fussy and may cause restlessness, drooling or loss of appetite.
- Pacifiers– sucking is a normal part of development that is comforting to children well into their first years of life. In fact, sucking often brings comfort even after a child no longer needs to get nourishment from a breast or bottle.
- Baby bottle tooth decay– this occurs when acid formed by bacteria on the teeth, from sugars in foods and beverages, damages the tooth enamel. This causes demineralization, and eventually can lead to a cavity.
What to do and how to clean your baby’s teeth and gums:
Here are some east ways to take care of your baby’s teeth and gums:
Before teeth have erupted, clean your baby’s gums and the teeth by rubbing a clean, damp washcloth along the baby’s upper and lower gums
When your baby has teeth, start brushing your baby’s at least two to three times a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water
The role of the parent in this case should be to make sure, after the last feeding prior to bedtime, the baby’s gums (and any erupted teeth) are wiped with either a piece of gauze, soft washcloth or soft-finger toothbrush. This will help to decrease any incidence of decay in teeth already present.It also helps to get the infant used to having their gums massaged prior to teething. And when their teeth start to erupt, start the habit of having their teeth cleaned with the products they’ll use throughout childhood.