Have you made the decision to breastfeed your child? If so, you already know about the many health benefits it has for both you and your baby, like improved immunity for them, a lower risk of breast cancer for you, and a wonderful way to bond with your child in those early stages. But is breastfeeding also related to you and your baby’s oral health? Somewhat surprisingly – yes! Many mothers don’t start asking a family dentist in Leawood about their child’s oral health until they become toddlers, but it turns out that the foundation of good oral health starts even earlier. In this blog, you’ll learn about six ways that breastfeeding affects the oral health of both you and your child!
Breastfed Babies Can Still Get Cavities
Since breast milk contains natural sugars the way any milk does, it can still cause cavities. It’s a good idea to use a clean, damp washcloth or a specially-designed teething toothbrush to gently clean your baby’s teeth and gums twice a day.
You Can Continue Breastfeeding When Your Baby Gets Teeth
This is a common question, but there’s no need to wean your child when they get teeth unless you simply want to.
Breastfeeding is recommended from a range of 1-2 years, well after an infant gets their first teeth, but it’s always a good idea to discuss what’s best for you with your doctor.
Multiple studies have shown that children who were exclusively breastfed during the first six months have fewer bite and alignment issues in adolescence than those who weren’t!
Remember Your Own Self-Care
It’s completely understandable that mothers don’t have as much time for self-care as they did before having children. Having said that, the last thing you need is to have major dental work done while you’re trying to care for your child!
As much as possible, stay consistent with your checkups twice a year and do the best you can with your hygiene habits. For example, if you aim to floss every day but only wind up doing it 3-5 times a week, your teeth and gums will still thank you.
You can also do your nighttime brushing and flossing a few hours before you go to bed, like right after dinner. It will be much easier if you have more energy!
Breastfeeding Lowers the Risk of Baby Bottle Decay
Baby bottle decay is severe decay that can quickly destroy a child’s front teeth. It occurs when a baby is put to bed with a bottle that has milk, juice or formula in it. Babies who are only breastfed aren’t at risk for this devastating condition!
Always Double Check Medications Before Dental Work
You should always let a dentist in Leawood know that you’re breastfeeding before you have any dental work done. That way they can make sure that any medications or anesthetic you need is safe for both you and your baby.
About the Author
Dr. Dennis Ayer is a family dentist in Leawood and also a father of three. He knows that good oral health starts in infancy and loves helping every member of the family achieve a beautiful smile for life – from the very beginning. If you have any questions, he can be reached via his website or at (913) 439-1800.