Moms know that great dental health starts at home. But did you know that it starts before your baby even cuts their first tooth? Breastfeeding your baby can help with the development of your baby’s teeth and gums and can create healthy impacts that continue as your child grows. Dr. Marci Guthrie encourages her “new Mom” team members to nurse and/or pump while they’re working at James River Family Dentistry, and encourages her patients as well. Providing a comfortable space for new mothers to nurse their babies while they’re seeing to their personal dental care is an important part of having a healthy mother and baby.
Breastfeeding your baby can help with their physical development and has been proven to fight infections and reduce the risks of SIDS, asthma, and more. Some of the ways breastfeeding can impact your baby’s dental health are:
- A better bite – Recent studies have shown that babies who were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months are less likely to have teeth alignment issues, such as crossbite, overbite or misaligned bites. While your baby may still need braces in the future, a better bite is a great goal for new moms.
- Reduce the risk for baby bottle decay – Baby bottle decay occurs when a baby is continuously put to sleep with a bottle of juice or milk. The prolonged contact with the sugars in the liquids creates decay in the upper teeth. Baby bottles full of water are perfectly safe, as there is no sugar to decay the tooth enamel. Breastfeeding reduces the risk for baby bottle decay, as there is no prolonged contact with sugary liquids against a baby’s teeth.
Some considerations to keep in mind for nursing mothers and their babies are:
- Breastfed infants can get cavities – Babies who are breastfed may not be at risk for baby bottle decay, but they still need to have their gums and newly sprouted baby teeth cleaned regularly. Use a soft, moist cloth to gently wipe the teeth and gums to remove residue. Your baby’s teeth and gums will stay healthy and strong while they grow.
- Weaning – It’s not necessary to wean a baby from breastfeeding as their teeth come in. It is a completely personal decision. A mother (and baby) who is healthy and happy with their development is the most important consideration when deciding to wean an infant.
- Adult dental work – As a breastfeeding mother, dental care tends to be the last on the list of priorities. It’s important to continue to receive regular check ups and cleanings, and to be sure that any medications needed for dental work are discussed with your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician. While medication can be transferred in breast milk, there are safe alternatives. Dr. Guthrie will make sure to explain any necessary medications to patients.
Whether you’re a first time mom or a veteran, taking the time to ensure your and your baby’s dental health is a priority for overall, lifelong health. James River Family Dentistry creates a warm, safe, comfortable environment for nursing mothers to feel welcome while still receiving the most comprehensive dental care possible. To make an appointment, contact James River Family Dentistry at (804) 323-4200.