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The Effect of Breastfeeding on Early Childhood Cavities

There has been some controversy about the effect of breastfeeding on early childhood cavities. Most have the belief that breastfeeding, particularly at night, is just like letting a baby sleep with a milk bottle. The pediatric and dental associations have divided opinions on this matter.

Different Opinions on Effect of Breastfeeding on Early Childhood Cavities

The Canadian Dental Association supports breastfeeding as it provides nutritional benefits to the infant and is recognized as an effective preventive health measures. In the absence of daily oral hygiene care, breastfeeding is one of the many risk factors that may contribute to the development of dental caries. Therefore, it is vital that mouth cleaning or tooth brushing be part of the daily routine for all infants, including those who are breastfed. CDA Board of Directors - Approved June 2013 Source: CDA Board of Directors, Does Breastfeeding Increase Risk of Early Childhood Caries, JCDA, June 2013, Vol 79, No 5, pg 280-281.

“Breastfeeding ensures the best possible health as well as the best development and psychosocial outcomes for the infant.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)

Infants who are strictly breastfed are more resistant to tooth decay. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)

The potential for early childhood caries exists for the breastfed child and is related to the extended and repetitive feeding times with prolonged exposure of teeth to fermentable carbohydrate without appropriate oral hygiene measures. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)

"Ad libitum nocturnal breastfeeding should be avoided after the first primary tooth begins to erupt. If the infant falls asleep while feeding, the teeth should be cleaned before placing the child in bed." Ad libitum means at will, or on cue. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)

If your child needs a comforter between regular feedings, at night, or during naps, give the child a clean pacifier recommended by your dentist or physician. American Dental Association

The AAPD recognizes the need for further scientific research regarding the effects of breastfeeding and the consumption of human milk on dentofacial growth and oral health. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)


The Link Between Breastfeeding and Early Childhood Cavities

The Effect of Breastfeeding on Early Childhood Cavities

It is easy to blame breastfeeding as a cause of early childhood cavities but a link has not been made between the two. According to the Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics:

These data provide no evidence to suggest that breastfeeding or its duration are independent risk factors for early childhood caries, severe early childhood caries, or decayed and filled surfaces on primary teeth.

Establishing the Link: Did the Generations Before Formula was Made Suffer from Early Childhood Cavities?

Before formula was invented, every baby was breastfed. Studies of dental records dating from historic times show very little proof that tooth decay existed, even though it is assumed that babies went through prolonged breastfeeding even experiencing night feeding, suckling at their mothers’ breasts.

Breastfeeding is different from Bottle Feeding

Sucking on the bottle is different from sucking on the breast. When a baby sucks on a bottle, the milk is released in front of the mouth and swishes its way around the teeth. When a baby is breastfed, nipple is drawn far back into the mouth to be able to suck it properly, releasing milk into the oral cavity to the throat, stimulating the baby to swallow. Furthermore, nightfeeding on a bottle allows continuous flow of milk while milk won’t flow from the breast unless a baby actively sucks on the breast.

Dental Care for Babies: Identifying Contributors to Early Childhood Cavities

Following the dental care tips for babies endorsed by the American Dental Association together with identifying causative factors of tooth decay in babies can prevent caries to form.

Sugar intake is big causative factor. Once your baby starts feeding on solids, it is recommended that he drinks water every after meal and that you clean the insides of his mouth with a damp washcloth. Once teeth come out, brushing should be done.

Dental Health Promotion

Whether you child is breastfed or not, it is essential that you start bringing them to a dentist as early as possible. This is for a routine dental check-up, allowing your dentist to get a baseline on your baby’s primary teeth, whether they are growing correctly and even to check for tongue ties. Dr. Ted Reese is an Indianapolis dentist who does pediatric cleanings (kids get a toy and a special bag with their own toothbrush and toothpaste) to prevent cavities, frenectomies for children with tongue or lip ties, and traditional or ceramic braces for teens and pre-teens. He practices minimally-invasive dentistry to make it as pain-free as possible (there are also various sedation modalities that can be used) for your child. You can schedule an appointment by calling 317-882-0228.

How to Brush Your Child’s Teeth

A lot of people ask, "How should I brush my child’s teeth?" Caring for your child’s teeth starts as soon as the first tooth erupts and begins with brushing the teeth and regular dental visits for a dental exam and cleaning . Dental care for babies is done differently from dental care for toddlers or preschoolers. However, one thing is the same: as parents, we need to encourage, educate and supervise how our children brush their teeth. Dentists suggest that children should have adult supervision when brushing their teeth until they are seven to eight years old. How to Brush Your Child’s Teeth

Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth

Did you know that proper dental care begins BEFORE a baby’s first tooth appears? Run a damp washcloth gently on your baby’s gums once a day. This will help clear away harmful bacteria. Once a baby’s tooth erupts, start with an infant toothbrush. Dental opinion on the use of toothpaste before two years old vary so it is best to consult with your dentist what would be best for your baby. If you will use a toothpaste, choose one that doesn't contain fluoride. Too much swallowing of fluoride can lead to discoloration in permanent teeth. For this reason, some parents use water to clean their baby’s mouth and teeth until they have two or more teeth.

Why start early?

Habits form during infancy. Once your baby gets used to the routine of cleaning their teeth at certain times during the day, it will not be as hard to inculcate the good habit of brushing one’s teeth as they get older. Teeth also need care as it takes years before permanent or adult teeth come out. Dental caries and tooth decay are problems that are very preventable during your child’s early years.

Brushing Your Child’s Teeth (Toddlers and Preschoolers)

At age 2, your child now knows how to spit. The introduction of toothpaste can begin. Avoid sugary or sweetened toothpaste brands as these do more harm than good.

Here are some tips on how to brush your child’s teeth:

  1. Choose a small, appropriate-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush. To encourage teeth brushing, let your child pick a toothbrush he likes. Before doing the routine, let the bristles soak in warm water for a few minutes to let it soften even more.
  2. Brush your children’ teeth twice a way – in the morning and before bedtime. Brushing their teeth should be the last thing they do before going to bed so it doesn’t give them time to sneak in desserts or eat a midnight snack (if they eat, brush their teeth again).
  3. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  4.  Cradle your child’s head, allowing you to see his rear teeth and start brushing the molars first. This is an area where cavities usually first develop.
  5. Spend at least two minutes brushing your child’s teeth. This maybe a long time for your child. You can sing a song while brushing their teeth and explain to them that you will stop once the song is done.
  6. You can let your child brush his teeth by himself but make sure to brush it yourself after.
  7. Replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 or 4 months. Replace it as soon as it shows signs of wear.
  8. Flossing should be done as soon as two teeth touch each other. Floss sticks or picks instead of string floss are better for your children.

You can check an animated image on how to brush your child’s teeth properly or watch a video on how a dentist does it.

When Should I Let My Children Brush and Floss on Their Own?

Most children lack the coordination and patience to brush or floss properly until about the age of 7. Up until this age, the best way to teach and encourage your children to develop the habit of brushing their teeth properly and regularly is to lead by example.

Allowing your children to see and watch how you brush your teeth educates more than telling them how. It also teaches them the importance of good oral hygiene.

Have Regular Visits with a Pediatric Dentist

Along with regular and proper brushing of your child’s teeth, make sure to bring him to a pediatric dentist twice a year. Other than treatment, a pediatric dentist’s main goal is prevention and maintenance. Preventive care means your child’s dentist will be able to see potential problems and device a way to prevent it from happening. For example, if your child’s teeth have deeper ridges, they are more prone to decay even with regular and proper brushing. Sealants would solve a potential problem by protecting your child’s teeth from bacteria.

Dr. Ted Reese is an Indianapolis dentist who does pediatric cleanings to prevent cavitiesfrenectomies for children with tongue or lip ties, and traditional or ceramic braces for teens and pre-teens. He practices minimally-invasive dentistry to make it as pain-free as possible (there are also various sedation modalities that can be used) for your child. His clinic has been painstakingly designed not to look like a dental clinic to help calm patients’, especially those of children, fears. His highly qualified and caring staff also go the extra mile to make children comfortable and at home before any dental procedure.

Feel free to call their office at 317-882-0228 to schedule your first “well-baby” dental check-up or your child’s fluoride-free teeth cleaning. They are located just north of Greenwood, Indiana in Southport on US 31.


How to Encourage Kids to Brush Their Teeth

As adults, we often run through the motions of getting ready for the day with very little thought. Showering, brushing your hair, dressing, and brushing your teeth are all habits we've developed that make us feel better and ready to face the day. However, kids are new to this planet and often don't know the benefits of these routines. They see toothbrushing as a distraction, an activity keeping them from doing something they really want to do. Here are a few things to encourage your child to take care of his pearly whites and make oral health a daily habit. Start Early

Before your baby even has teeth, start using a soft wet washcloth to wipe their gums and tongue. It will get your child used to you taking care of her future teeth. Make sure to take your child to the dentist early and take them with you when you get your teeth cleaned. Show them that it doesn’t hurt and that it’s something you do as well! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your baby see the dentist when that first tooth erupts, or no later than their first birthday.

Monkey See Monkey Do!

Your child wants to be like their favorite people – you! Take your children into the bathroom with you when you brush your teeth. Show them that it doesn’t hurt to floss. Hand them their own toothbrush to use while you brush your teeth. Or even let them brush your teeth for fun! Have your child brush their own teeth first and let them know they are doing a fabulous job. Then ask if you can get the last really hard to reach spots in the back.

Elmo brushes his teeth

Make It Fun

Children will often respond to brushing their teeth when its fun. Buy a toothbrush with their favorite character on it or one that lights up. Or sing a song while they brush. Use hand held flossers made for kids. And let educational tools help do the teaching. Sometimes kids just don’t listen to their parents, but they might absorb the message from their favorite TV show character.

Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Reese provides pediatric cleanings (kids get a toy and a special bag with their own toothbrush and toothpaste) to prevent cavities, frenectomies for children with tongue or lip ties, and traditional or ceramic braces for teens and pre-teens. We practice minimally-invasive dentistry for if they do get cavities, which like laser dentistry, is as pain-free as possible (there are also various sedation modalities that can be used). And as your child is getting ready to become an adult, Dr. Reese can also help with wisdom teeth removal.

What Does A Tongue-Tie Look Like?

The common characteristics of a tongue-tie are a heart-shaped tongue, clicking while feeding from a bottle or breastfeeding. Nursing mothers may experience sore nipples and the baby may be gaining weight poorly. Physically you will see that the tongue looks like a heart and when you run your finger under the tongue, your finger will 'catch' on the frenulum. A lactation consultant might recommend visiting a dentist to confirm a diagnosis of a tongue-tie and to see if revision is recommended. Ankyloglossia is the medical term for a tongue-tie and a frenuloplasty is a procedure to repair ankyloglossia. Dr. Reese regularly performs frenectomies for babies (and adults). Below are some images of what a tongue-tie typically looks like:

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Akyloglossia is commonly known as being tongue-tied. The major problem tongue-tied babies experience is difficulty in breast feeding. Due to the tightened lingual frenulum, the tongue has less mobility and freedom to move resulting in breast feeding difficulties.

What is Ankyloglossia?

What is Ankyloglossia?


"Ankyloglossia" sounds like some sort of complex molecule or compound. But really, it's just the medical term for a tongue-tie. While being tongue-tied does not necessarily seem like it would be a big deal, a child born with ankyloglossia can later develop problems with speech, feeding, and oral hygiene. These are three major components of an individual's daily routine that could be negatively affected due to a "simple" tongue-tie. As the baby matures and develops, an untreated tongue-tie could even result in deformities that hamper the progression of infantile to toddler - and eventually adult - eating styles.

Around four percent of newborns are born with ankyloglossia, ranging from mild cases to complete immobility of the tongue. Tongue-ties occur when the membrane that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth, the lingual frenulum, is unusually shortened and thickened to prevent free movement of the tongue. In some extreme cases, the lingual frenulum can literally anchor the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

At this point, you are probably wondering what can be done to treat ankyloglossia. Although there are very few doctors who offer treatments in their office, the procedure is actually quite simple and safe! Dr. Reese is able to perform a complete frenotomy, "the incision and relocation of the frenal attachment", in one visit, either by modern laser techniques or traditional scalpel incision. Call 317-882-0228 today to make a consultation or appointment if you believe frenotomy is the right choice for your baby.