The decision to breastfeed is a personal one and one of the first choices a new mother makes for her newborn. Breastmilk is well known for its ability to help your baby fight infections and reduce the number of health risks, including ear infections and asthma. Nursing mothers may also lower their risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer. Another and less known reason to breastfeed is its impact on both the mother and the baby’s dental wellbeing.
Reasons to Breastfeed
According to recent studies performed by the American Dental Association journal, babies who were breastfed for the first six months of life were less likely to have dental alignment issues such as open bites, overbites, and crossbites than babies who were bottle-fed. Studies have also shown that a breastfed child is significantly less likely to suffer from tooth decay than a child who is artificially fed. According to the dental professionals at Smile Reef, taking your child to your pediatric dental expert at a young age will allow your dentist to monitor your baby’s teeth to ensure that the baby teeth are progressing correctly and the permanent teeth will erupt at the correct time.
• Teething: One of the most common questions asked by new moms is, “should I stop breastfeeding when my baby starts teething?” The answer is a personal one; in fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of life. When it comes to breastfeeding, the decision of when to stop is the mother’s choice and has no bearing on the baby’s teeth coming in.
• Baby bottle tooth decay: Breastfeeding reduces the risk of baby bottle tooth decay, a condition that is caused by prolonged and frequent contact with drinks that contain high quantities of sugar. Baby bottle tooth decay most often occurs on the front teeth, but the other teeth can also be affected and become decayed. Since breastmilk also contains sugar, you can begin to wipe your baby’s gums with a clean washcloth to minimize the risk of decay as soon as a few days after birth. Once the teeth start to erupt, consult with your Smile Reef pediatric dentist on when you should begin using fluoride toothpaste.
Dental Health for Pregnant & Nursing Mothers
If you are scheduled for a dental procedure that will require medication while nursing, check with your dental professional or physician to make sure it will not harm your baby when passed through the breast milk. Generally speaking, it’s safe to go to the dentist while pregnant and nursing, but as a mother, you will always put your baby’s safety and health first. To learn more about medications and their side effects, a useful reference guide is the U.S National Library of Medicine’s Drugs & Lactation Database (Lactmed). Begin by searching any medication for a full list of side effects and a list of alternative medicines. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well as your baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. According to dental professionals, moms often neglect their oral health by not brushing and flossing regularly. A lack of dental care during this time can lead to cavities and gum disease. According to the American Dental Association, you should brush twice a day and floss once per day to prevent decay and cavities. New moms are also more prone to teeth grinding, and stress is a leading factor. New moms need to stay hydrated, especially when breastfeeding. Dry mouth puts mothers at risk for cavities, gum disease, and other oral issues.
To learn more about pediatric dental care, contact the knowledgeable dental experts at Smile Reef today.