August is National Breastfeeding Month, an opportunity to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding and how to keep mom and baby healthy. Breastfeeding is recommended for new mothers to feed their babies in the early weeks and months of their baby’s life but can be continued for more than one year along with other foods. Breastfeeding offers many benefits including increasing immunity to illness, antibodies passed from mother to baby, and decreased risk of diseases like ovarian and breast cancer for the mother.
Although breastfeeding is often associated with the benefits to baby and mom’s immune systems, there are considerations for oral health as well. Breastfeeding and bottle feeding can produce differences in the way teeth erupt in the mouth. The best way to address any possible concerns is to take children to visit a dentist when they get their first tooth or at one year, whichever comes first, to allow the dentist to monitor baby’s teeth as they come in. As baby gets more teeth, they are susceptible to tooth decay and cavities – which can happen with any feeding method. It’s important to care for your baby’s teeth from the start by wiping baby’s gums with a clean, moist washcloth every day. Then, brush their teeth twice a day as soon as the first tooth emerges.
Mothers can also ensure they have the opportunity to successfully breastfeed by taking care of themselves and their oral health. Breastfeeding mothers need to be well hydrated and drinking fluoridated water can benefit their oral health and reduce bacteria associated with dry mouth. Although it can be difficult to keep up with everyday routines during the first few weeks of a child’s life, it’s important to continue practicing regular oral health at home by brushing twice per day and flossing once per day, and at the dental office by visiting your provider for routine check-ups. Having dental treatment performed during pregnancy and after giving birth is safe, but if you are prescribed medication, be sure to check on any interactions this can have with your breastmilk and talk to your doctor about how to continue safely breastfeeding.
Throughout the month of August, join KOHC is recognizing National Breastfeeding Month and encouraging healthy choices for feeding and caring for new babies to ensure healthy mothers and babies.
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