When you hold your newborn baby for the first time, you not only are filled with love for this tiny human, but you also quickly realize just how much you have to learn about being a parent. Nothing fully prepares you for this steep and ever-changing learning curve. Whether you breastfeed or not, there are things you need to know about your baby’s oral health within the first year. Understanding these concepts can help you keep their adorable smile strong while they’re tiny and while they grow.
You Don’t Have to Wean When Your Baby Gets Teeth.
Nursing can be a beautiful bonding experience, but some parents feel pressure to stop sooner than they’d like. Contrary to popular belief, when you wean depends on you and your baby. When the first tooth erupts in your child’s mouth, it doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding. In fact, most health organizations recommend nursing for at least the first six months up to two years of your baby’s life.
Breastmilk contains nutrients that formula simply can’t compete with. It may be painful at first for you and your baby to adapt to nursing when their teeth come in, but continuing can help them be healthy and strengthen your connection.
Baby Teeth Matter.
Often, parents underestimate the importance of primary or baby teeth. Although they eventually come out, and permanent teeth erupt through the gums, the first round is still essential for your child’s development and growth. Without their baby teeth, your baby wouldn’t be able to add solid foods to their diet.
In addition to biting and chewing food, babies and children need their tiny teeth to serve as placeholders for their permanent teeth, which develop underneath the gums. If a baby tooth is lost significantly too early, it can throw off the alignment of the permanent teeth, creating problems that need to be fixed later on. In other words, baby teeth are worth protecting and keeping healthy for as long as your baby needs them.
Breastfeeding Lowers the Risk of Tooth Decay.
In addition to more vitamins and nutrients, breastmilk also has less sugar than many commercial formulas. As a result, the chances of your nursing baby getting cavities is substantially lower than a formula-fed baby. However, it is still possible for them to get a cavity while nursing, which is why you should start brushing their small teeth daily basically after eruption.
You Need to Take Care of Yourself to Care for Your Baby.
When you’re a new parent, everything seems centered around your little one. In the chaos of welcoming a baby into your family, you can forget even simple self-care like brushing your own teeth. However, neglecting yourself puts not only your health at risk but your baby’s as well. If you don’t brush and floss every day, bad bacteria from your mouth can be transferred to a shared spoon or through sweet kisses into your baby’s mouth.
To prevent this, you need to clean your mouth for their sake as much as for your own. To help your baby thrive, you need to first keep yourself healthy, so you can do the same for your little one.
In the end, if you can and do breastfeed, you’re already taking a step in the right direction as a parent. This time is full of learning opportunities as well as trial and error, but with this knowledge, you can skip over unnecessary mistakes in your little one’s journey. Just remember—as your baby learns and grows, so will you!
About the Practice
Dr. Patrick Bowman and Dr. Samantha Graffeo are board-certified pediatric dentists and practice at Wash Park Pediatric Dentistry. They treat patients as young as infants all the way through to 18-year-olds, meeting a wide range of needs. As parents and in their training, they have learned how to make dental appointments easier for little patients and love to teach healthy oral habits. If you have questions about your baby’s oral development, you may contact our Denver office by calling 720-647-6310 or clicking here.