Exclusive breastfeeding is the preferred method of infant feeding in the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding throughout the first year and into the second year carries with it a multitude of advantages for both the mother and the infant.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue a minimum of one year, and as long thereafter as baby and mother mutually desire. Some mothers may wonder how these recommendations can be applied when most babies cut their first teeth during their first year. Many mothers find the real challenge occurs during the time that the baby is actively cutting teeth, rather than after the teeth have erupted. Babies can experience significant discomfort due to teething and will sometimes alter their positioning or latch to avoid hitting the sore spots on their gums
Infancy Oral care
Human milk alone does not cause dental caries. Infants exclusively breastfed are not immune to decay due to other factors that impact the infant’s risk for tooth decay. Decay causing bacteria (streptococcus mutans) is transmitted to the infant by way of parents, caregivers, and others
Giving an infant a sugary drink at nap or nighttime is harmful because during sleep, the flow of saliva decreases, allowing the sugary liquids to linger on the child’s teeth for an extended period of time. If you breast-feed, avoid letting the baby nurse continuously. And after each feeding, wipe your baby’s teeth and gums with a clean, damp washcloth or a gauze pad.
What to do and how to clean your baby’s teeth and gums:
Here are some east ways to take care of your baby’s teeth and gums:
- Make sure that baby latches on well every time. Gently remind him to open wide before latching on.
- Before baby will clamp down on the nipple, he has to move his tongue out of the way or risk biting himself. The observant mother can be ready to stick a finger in the corner of his mouth so the clamping is done on the finger and not the nipple.
- Consider rinsing your nipples with cool water, as some mothers find that baby’s increased saliva from teething irritates the nipples.
- Some mothers find it helpful to apply a 100% lanolin preparation intended for nursing mothers.
The following steps are recommended:
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding with appropriate introduction of solids for the rest of the first year and into the second year
- Proper attention to dental hygiene at the first tooth eruption
- early dental evaluation of infants with a family history of dental caries (6 to 12 months of age) with regular follow-up
- Never allow a baby to be propped with a bottle
- Never allow a baby to go to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water
- Dental evaluations for infants without a family history of caries should begin at 12 months