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Breastfeeding and Infant Oral Health

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Breastfeeding and Infant Oral Health

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Mother breastfeeding baby

Breastfeeding is one of the most important decisions a mother can make. It can help your baby develop antibodies especially in the first six months of life, thus preventing infections, reducing health risks and obesity. It can also have an impact on the dental health of both the baby and the mother.

New studies have shown that breastfeeding in the first 6 months helps with developing healthy dental arches and babies are less prone to develop crooked teeth and malocclusions.

Babies and teeth growth:

 

The teeth begin to form when the baby is still in the mother’s womb. It happens, therefore, that every newborn, from the first moments of life has already in his gums the future teeth. To see them grow, however, we must wait several months. The first teeth appear, in most cases between the sixth and the eighth month, but this is not necessarily true for every case.  It is normal to see children 4 months old and already teething, while others may have to wait until the 17th month.

Can breastfeeding cause cavities?

 

Breastfeeding will not cause caries on its own even if the breast milk, just like formula, contains sugar. During the night babies produce less saliva and the residue of milk can cause increment in the activity of bacteria responsible for cavities. Therefore cleaning you baby’s mouth as soon as possible after feeding is a paramount, even if the baby doesn’t have teeth.

What to do and how to clean your baby’s teeth and gums:

 

– If you can, take your baby to a pediatric dentist before his/hers first birthday to receive the information about the preventive measures to avoid caries and to get general information about infant’s oral health.

The American association of pediatric dentists – Chicago, suggests that parents should gently clean infant’s gums and teeth after breastfeeding.”

–  You can clean the babies’ gums with moistened gauze, cloth or a silicone rubber.

Cleaning children’s teeth is not usually a favorite activity for either parents or children, but insisting on cleaning a child’s teeth is less invasive than the alternative: dental work to repair cavities.

When the first tooth comes in, a soft toothbrush should be introduced. Some children will resist and medicine20 using humor and novelty to encourage cooperation is needed.

Prevention:

 

  1. The first aspect of prevention is for all family members (particularly the mother) to practice good oral hygiene.

  1. Avoid giving sugary drinks to the baby.

  1. Do not taste the same spoon with which you give your baby food. The mouth of the infant is initially sterile, non-colonized by microorganisms that can be directly transmitted from mother to child with wrong habits.

  1. Disinfect the pacifier that has accidentally fallen to the ground.

  1. Help children in cleaning their teeth, especially very young children under the age of 7.
  2. After the eruption of the first teeth, clean all tooth surfaces and gums according to the instructions of the dentist, first without the use of toothpaste, which can be unpleasant to the child, later do it with a little toothpaste just so as the child can appreciate the feeling of freshness.

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