My second child suffered from early childhood caries (ECC). We were told breastfeeding was to blame, which I did not believe. I do believe that we could have taken better care of his infant teeth and prevented or at least reduced the severity of his tooth decay.
ECC is often called “baby bottle tooth decay”, although my son was exclusively breastfed except for two weeks of intermittent bottle feeding following open heart surgery.
ECC is caused by bacteria not breastfeeding.
The California Dental Association explains:
Research shows that children are not born with the bacteria that cause decay, but are infected with it, usually at an early age, from their caregiver – primarily mom. If you have ever had a cavity, you carry the bacteria that cause cavities. Caregivers with untreated cavities have higher levels of bacteria in their mouth and are more likely to pass bacteria to their children. Visit your CDA member dentist for a check up and have cavities filled. Your dentist may recommend an antibacterial mouthwash or chewing gum containing xylitol to help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth.
Bacteria is passed through saliva and can occur before the first tooth appears.
- Avoid sharing spoons and forks with your child
- Use water to clean a pacifier instead of cleaning it in your mouth
Proper feeding techniques and cleaning your child’s mouth will also help prevent ECC.
- Hold your baby when you feed him/her
- Remove the bottle when baby falls asleep
- Wipe off baby’s teeth/gums with a damp washcloth at least twice per day and when baby is done eating
- Stick to a feeding schedule and limit between meal snacking
- Take your child to a CDA member dentist by age one
A safe and natural sweet-tasting extract from plants, approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for use in foods in 1963. Occurs in nature in fruits & vegetables such as plums, raspberries, strawberries and cauliflower. Parents who use Xylitol themselves regularly significantly reduce their chances of transmitting decay-causing bacteria (strep mutans) to their babies.
As soon as your child’s first tooth appears, the decaying process can begin if proper care is not given.
Individually packaged towelettes containing a xylitol rich formula, Spiffies Cleaning and Teething Wipes have been shown to be therapeutic for reducing bacteria in the mouth, as lower bacteria levels means fewer or no cavities! Great for using on-the-go or when baby is asleep, and especially after night time feedings. Invented by pediatrician Ray Wagner, MD, parents have claimed that they also soothe inflamed gums when cooled in the fridge much like the cool compress and massage recommended by the AAP.
Dr. Wagner recommends that you put some solution in a small cup and let your child dip their toothbrush into it and brush for a few minutes. You should be there to support, encourage and finish the brushing, but impromptu tests show that children love to brush with I Can Brush and it’s important to have a positive first experience with tooth-brushing. As it is both paraben and fluoride-free, there is no harm to your child if a small amount is actually swallowed.
I looked up some of the ingredients I could not pronounce on the Environmental Working Group‘s database, and the highest hazard score I found was one.
I don’t know if this product would have helped my son, but I wish we would have tried it (had it been around).
I really like the informative flyer that came with the product. The information is very clear and appropriate. No blame is placed on breastfeeding! More appropriately, we learn that parent and sibling oral health decay is the biggest risk for your child developing ECC.
Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.