Nursing: it’s something many mothers choose to do once their baby is born if they are able to do so. Many have said that nursing can be one of the prime ways for a mother and baby to bond. Plenty of folks also note that breastfeeding is a great way to ensure an infant is getting the best nutrients possible. Regardless of your take on nursing, there are also pitfalls that come with it. Discomfort for the mother, risk of potential infections to the mother, and even risk of infecting the baby or passing substances onto them are some cons of breastfeeding. Another thing to look out for is the possibility of triggering tooth decay caused by nursing. Yes, you read that correctly. Luckily, there are ways the risk of decay via nursing can be prevented.
Easy Ways to Prevent Tooth Decay Caused By Nursing
Let’s face it; some things are inevitable. However, when it comes to infant tooth decay, there are several easy and painless ways to help prevent this. The health of your baby’s future teeth matters after all.
Below are some simple ways you can best protect your little one from decay caused by nursing.
Avoid Nursing Your Little One to Sleep
In the early months, it’s common for mothers to nurse their baby to sleep as a means of comfort and satisfaction. Nursing before bedtime has been shown to help infants sleep better and longer. Many mothers would tell you it’s true.
However, babies who are breastfed should be weaned off from nightly feedings by the time they’re a year old. Other babies might be fine without those regular pre-bed feedings by the time they reach six months of age. Six months to a year is generally when babies can sleep throughout the night without waking up to eat. Mothers might rejoice at this news as this means more sleep for them too. However, another benefit? It means there’s less of a risk of decay caused by nursing.
Be Mindful of What You’re Putting In Your Baby’s Bottle
Some parents believe giving their kids fruit juice in their bottle or sippy cup is a great approach. Many believe it’s a healthy drink for young kids while others think it’s a great treat or way to keep their little one at ease. However, fruit drinks, particularly aimed at kids, are often filled with added sugar. Not only that, but fruit juice naturally contains sugar. Giving your kiddo a bottle of fruit juice or other sugary drinks like soda is perhaps one of the quickest ways your child might become a victim of tooth decay.
That said, only formula or breast milk should be put in your baby’s bottle. And once they’re old enough, regular milk (no chocolate milk, parents!) or water can be put in your little’s bottle. The lower the sugar content, the better.
Take Proper Care of Your Baby’s Gums Daily
Regardless of your baby’s age, taking regular care of their oral health is of utmost importance. This is true whether your baby is one week old or 18 months. Yes, that means that even if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, it’s critical to take good care of their oral standing.
Before the teeth erupt, babies should have their gums gently rubbed with a clean rag or gauze daily, especially after feedings. Failure to do this can lead to the buildup of sugars in the mouth (yes, both breast milk and formula have sugars). As these sugars are left to sit and rot, they trigger the growth of oral bacteria. It is these pesky, little bugs that can contribute to oral health problems, including baby bottle tooth decay. And as their very first tooth begins to appear, it’s vital to start the toothbrushing process as recommended by your baby’s dentist.
Failure to upkeep the simple act of caring for your baby’s oral health can most definitely lead to risks of decay caused by nursing. So, get to cleaning those gums and/or teeth, and keep up with it daily! Your little one is depending on you.
Don’t Forget That First Dental Appointment
It’s all too easy to get caught up with life’s busy moments. After all, life with a baby can seem hectic and always busy. But there are many things that parents need to keep on top of if they want what’s best for their baby. One of those things is making sure they schedule their little one for their very first dental visit by the appropriate age.
The American Dental Association recommends taking your child to the dentist for the first time when they begin to show signs of their first tooth. However, because babies get their first tooth at different times, the latest this first visit should be is by your child’s first birthday. First visit by their first birthday? That’s easy enough to remember!
It might seem silly to bring your baby this early to a dental appointment, but it’s surely one of the most important appointments they’ll attend as babies. Without consulting a pediatric dentist, you will never truly know how the oral standing of your baby is going. And you’ll want to make extra sure of this especially if this is your first child and/or if oral health problems run in the family. Always play it safe!
Have Your Kid Visit a Pediatric Dentist Regularly
It’s not enough to take your child to their first dental appointment and then call it quits. Even if you or another member in the family are used to skipping out on dental visits, your child deserves to be able to attend these visits on a regular basis. After all, babies and children are extra vulnerable to oral health-related problems when compared to their adult counterparts.
For the most part, young children need to visit the dentist twice annually, just like the majority of teens and adults. However, for children with special oral health needs, more frequent visits might be necessary. Your child’s pediatric dentist knows best.
My Child Already Has Decay Caused By Nursing: What Do I Do Now?
First and foremost, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis for your child. A licensed dentist will be able to confirm or deny if your kiddo does in fact have tooth decay and how many teeth are affected. And they might have proper insight as to what caused the decay from the get-go.
From there, your kid’s dentist will be able to decide the best way to tackle the decay. Cavities in young children’s teeth are often treated similarly to that of adults: with fillings and/or crowns. Some dentists might also recommend a fluoride treatment to help remineralize dentin and enamel. In more serious cases, however, dentists might have to extract your child’s affected tooth or teeth.
Going forward, your child’s dentist will be able to provide some tips on how you can help your little one prevent tooth decay. This advice will be imperative in the near future as well as in the far future. Taking good care of their teeth now can set them up for a future of healthier pearly whites. Proper care can lead to lower dental bills, less oral pain and suffering for your kid, and overall, better oral health for your son or daughter. A win-win all around!