Tooth Care for Your Gummy Baby!

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November 26, 2021

Do you know how to take care of baby's gummy little smile?

This is Maureen Farrell and Heather ONeal and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships, and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little or a lot along the way.


So join us for another episode. Welcome to The Milk Minute Podcast everybody. We’re going to start this episode by telling you a little bit about what a day in the life of Heather and Maureen has been like in this season, because you know, I think I have been getting too many messages lately from people who are saying like, oh my gosh, you have it all together.

I can’t believe you do so much and you still have it all together. And I laugh because I’m like, clearly I’m not sharing enough of what my real life is like. And I don’t want people to get it confused. Like, don’t get it twisted. We are the same. I know I, yeah, guys today, Heather and I like we’re both falling apart, just crumbling. Crumbling in front of your ears.

Sorry in advance if this episode sounds like my six-year-old put it together because that’s the kind of day it’s been. Should, should we just, I just might want to like, let me just tell you about the last two days. Cause I feel like that just like sums it up. I’m going to drink my wine and sit back and wrap myself in my old man’s sweater that my friend bought from Goodwill who loaned me once that I never gave back.

Oh, those are the best. That’s the best. Okay. So yesterday evening, I, to be honest, I cannot remember what happened in the morning or mid-afternoon because I was home alone with the children and it, it was like one of those days where I just like wanted to give them away. But a client whose due date was coming up, called me to let me know that she was having some contractions.

And I was like, great. Usually this makes me feel excited. It did not do that. It started this like anxiety cascade that did not stop. And I called my husband to be like, Hey, you know, I think you should come home from work sooner. Like, why don’t you clean up and come home? Because I think I’m going to have to go to this birth, like when it gets dark. And then like he got home and I was a fucking disaster.

I mean, like, I was like pacing. I was feeling like physical anxiety, not just like that I couldn’t stop thinking about it, but like my whole body was having that reaction. Right. And it was so bad that while I was waiting for my client to call me back, cause I was like, Hey, let’s check in at this time if nothing has changed.

It was so bad that my six-year-old noticed and went and opened a new package of clay, which is his favorite thing and put it in front of me. And he was like, here, mama sculpting makes me feel better when I’m upset, let’s make some things. And I was like, holy fuck. Like, this is, bad. Brutal. Brutal. Yeah. And then the other midwife I was working with on this one, decided to go early, which again, should have made me feel better.

Made me feel worse. I don’t know why. And then it was finally time to go and I had to poop because I was feeling so anxious. My body was like, let’s just shit our pants.

So then I had diarrhea. Perfect. Yeah. Got in the car, drove into the no man’s land of cell service. Honestly had a wonderful labor with this person. Very easy birth. Very nice. But then like after, during the postpartum again, like was losing my fucking shit with anxiety for no goddamn reason, instead of just like napping at their house and driving back in the morning, I drove back at four in the morning and ate like hohos and a diet Coke to stay awake.

It’s awesome. And then I got home, fed the baby, slept for an hour. Everybody wakes up cause it’s time to wake the fuck up, hops into bed with me. I am a shit show disaster land. My loving husband, who’s going to listen was like, wow, I’m so tired today. And I was like, yeah, you feel like I do every day? Huh?

Yeah, can’t resist that little jab. Gotta get it. Couldn’t do it. Could not keep my mouth shut. And then today guys was the day I planned to like catch up on all the like big adult things I had to do. Like all the phone calls and emails and a conference call and blah, blah, blah. And I like flubbed up every single one of them.

Like I didn’t leave the house till two. I like went to the post office, literally jammed my key in the wrong box cause I can’t read right now. And then went somewhere else to do errands, passed my destination three fucking times. I did make a couple of phone calls fairly succinctly though. So that worked.

That was nice. The guy at vital registration maybe thinks I’m a psycho, but I got done what I needed to. That’s always good. Yeah. And then I had a conference call with a colleague that I need to do some work on and basically had to be like, I love all these ideas. Don’t have time for any of them. It’s like, can we pick up again in six months?

Does that sound okay? And then I went to record here and usually there’s nobody here at 8:00 PM. There’s everybody here tonight at 8:00 PM. Every Tom Dick and Harry wants to hear the Milk Minute Podcast record. Yeah. And you know, I was supposed to get ready for this episode and sat and like disassociated for 30 minutes.

Doing nothing, you know, and, and then threw together a Google document. So I, I don’t know how. That’s, unfortunately though, everyone, you should know that that is the life of a home birth midwife. Yeah. I mean, you think you know, but you have no idea until you’re actually living it. And I just you know, commend anybody that is consistently doing home birth and, and still functioning and including their children in the process of like this different kind of lifestyle, because it does change your lifestyle.

You can’t do things that other people do. You know, you can’t commit to things that other people routinely commit to. Extracurriculars, you know, there’s holidays. So anyway, I’m sure though, even at your most shit showy, that patient got the best care and you changed her life and that’s the rub, right?

Yeah, totally. And you’re like, okay, I guess I’ll do it again. Right. And I don’t know if you feel this way, but I do where I’m like a monster at home. Yeah. Just an absolute disaster of a monster. And then when I get to where I’m going and I have to work, somehow I’m better. I’m like on it. And then the minute I walk in the door, I’m just like.

I know for real Heather, and, and then sometimes I finally get in bed and I’m alone. I’m like, God, why am I such a bitch to everybody? Like, fuck. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I learned some things today. First of all, my confession is that I have been stealing moments for myself and spending them in the most ridiculous way. Tell me. I, you’re going to laugh. So I get up 30 minutes earlier than I really need to, which is ridiculous.

So it’s like the butt hole of dawn, not even the crack of dawn. Sounds horrible, but I’m, I’m here with you. And I make myself a French press coffee, and I watch The Last Kingdom by myself. Nice. Every morning for the past three weeks, because I just can’t do anything else anymore without it. I think that sounds great. Yeah. But like all those strong Vikings in there and like all their dirty hair, they just like fight all day and I’m like, yeah, that’s you Heather.

Like, you’re going to be a strong Viking today. Just get through this. I’m like amping myself up every day to just like go through the hamster wheel of my, you know, I love teaching, but the way that I’m currently teaching every five weeks, I get a new rotation of students. I repeat the same things over and over again.

And I physically have to be there at a certain time. There’s no flexibility. I can’t have a sick day. There’s no one to replace me. So it’s just been like 10 weeks of this where I’m just like, oh my God, like I just need a minute. And then I usually come home from clinical, do a consult, because I usually have a consult booked at like one or two o’clock.

I do a doctor’s appointment for my kid, which was great. But like, because of this, usually by dinner time, it’s like, we’re all staring at each other, like what’s for dinner? And I’m like, fuck everyone. Like, I don’t know, what is for dinner? Eggs. Again, I don’t know. So this morning I was going to be on it today.

Okay. I like dug my feet into the ground and I imagine just sucking up all the energy from the core of the earth. And I was like, you are going to crush this day, Heather. So much to do. I look at my email on my phone. Big mistake. Don’t do that before your French press is done. And my accountant tells me hey, Heather turns out you should have been filing quarterly taxes for what is it called withholdings for the past two years, even though you don’t have employees. Apparently even if it’s $0, you’re still supposed to file quarterly. However long, even though you don’t have employees. So he’s like, yeah. So that needs to be done ASAP.

And I’m like, first of all, let me Google that. And second of all, can you do that for me? Yeah. You’re like, cool. Do you have time for that? But this is just like classic entrepreneurial stuff where you’re like, gosh, I’m doing it. I’m crushing it. I got this business and then your accountants like you’ve been fucking up for two years and you’re like, oh, I am a hundred percent sure I have.

Well, nobody from the government has called me. So I think it’s fine and it’s not like I had employees, you know, you’re like, it’s just zero. It’s not like I wasn’t reporting like $1 trillion. Yeah. Like that was not the first thing on my mind having zero employees to report zero. But anyway, so that happened.

And then I was like, that’s okay. Don’t let it deter you, Heather, we got this. And I dusted off the crock pot. Literally it was covered in dust because I have been doing Hello Fresh for a long time, but I’m so sick of tacos. I can’t do it anymore. So the money, we end up spending the same amount of money, it does not save us money.

I did the spreadsheet. So anyway, I’m dusting off this Crock-Pot and I bought one of those. Pre-made like just dump meals that you just dump it in. So five o’clock in the morning, I dumped this in. I’m like, all right, this is good. It’s going to be done. I’m going to record tonight. It’s going to be perfect.

I put it on low. Well tonight, I get home. I do my whole workday. I do my consult. I take my son to his doctor’s appointment and I just need a shower. And I tell my husband, I need a shower. That’s all I really need in my life. I got this recording tonight. I want to look pretty. Well, if you had Patreon, you could see right now that it is a no bones day.

There is no makeup today, which is fine. My patrons are cool with it, but still I wanted to, you know, not be this way. So I’m in the shower. I was interrupted four times in one shower. Four various stupid questions from my children and my husband. And then my daughter shows up with yogurt on her face and I’m like, why do you have yogurt on your face?

And my husband’s like, oh, I gave her yogurt and I was like, you could have given her the dinner that’s completely finished in the Crock-Pot. And he’s like, oh, okay. And I’m like, yeah, it’s 6:30. You can just feed her. You know what I mean? It’s like, that’s why I did it. So now she’s not going to eat dinner cause she just had Greek yogurt. Like this is insane. And so I’m already pissed. I get out and I’m like, all right, everybody to the table, we’re going to eat. I got to record tonight. I’m doing this. I am Thor. I’d take one bite and that shit tastes like plastic because it had been in there since 5:00 AM with one of those Crock-Pot liners.

And apparently 11 hours on low, it would kill us. I’m certain. So I was like, everyone forks down. Yeah, it’s over. Mommy loses, everyone’s getting an egg and whatever. And my husband was so scared of me. He actually made a chicken and made some salad and then opened wine and handed it to me. And I was like, thank you! So here we are though.

But the point is not every day is like that, but lately it seems like it has been and every season is a season. So if you’re going through that or any version of that, the only sure thing in life is change. And we can rest assured that you will have a completely different problem next month, or maybe three months from now. Tomorrow. Or tomorrow.

And so we’re here with you. We get it. We totally understand. And we are really no different than anybody else. I mean, I think today our listener question is how do we do it? And the answer is I don’t think we do. Yeah, we do it just like you do. And also in case you haven’t listened to the first 50 episodes or whatever it was before we actually leveled up our equipment and decided we should spend some time figuring out how to perfect this, you know, it’s just trial by error.

We’re just saying, yes. You know, like, will you do, will you record this breastfeeding podcast and make it educational and kind of funny? Yes. Okay, great. I can’t promise quality. I’m going to promise to keep showing up every day. And when I have time, we will fix it and slowly we have. You know, so if you’re just now tuning in, go back and listen to episode one and see the growth and see the change and know that you’re doing that too, just in your own way in your own niche.

So we’re here for it. Well, after all that, today we want to talk about teeth. Yeah,

Maureen, did you know that my love language is deluxe sized beauty products that I can squirrel away to my bathroom and rub on my body and smell good and feel like a million dollars? Oddly specific but I actually did. Yeah, it’s a situation at my house and I’m not that ashamed of it. I’m proud of it. And I’m going to tell you today that I support Glossy box. Well lucky for you for your next birthday and probably for Christmas too, you’re going to get a beautifully wrapped, lovely little box containing five deluxe sized beauty products delivered directly to your doorstep from me from Glossy box.

Yeah, but how do you know that they are any good? It’s really going to be filled with five makeup, hair, and skin products from top brands. And it’s different every month, right? Yeah. It’s packaged with love by their in-house beauty experts and delivered to your doorstep every month. Oh my gosh. That just like tickles me pink and I’m so excited about it. Well, if you guys at home want to try Glossy box you can get $10 off a three-month subscription by following the link in our show notes and join me in rubbing on all the creams and smelling all the smells and using all the best hair products.

So use the link in our show notes to get your discount at Glossy box today.

Let’s talk about breastfeeding and your baby’s teeth, or even their non-teeth. Just their little flapping baby gums. Yeah. So we get this question a lot where people are like, oh no, I took my one-year-old to the dentist and they said I can’t breastfeed to sleep anymore because it’ll cause cavities.

Yeah. Is that true? And then they Google it and they’re like, oh, this is very confusing. Right. So I apologize in advance. If we have dentists listening, this is not meant to just make you guys feel bad, but we really want to help our, you know, help people who are breastfeeding continue to do so. And we just want to like cut out some fear-mongering here.

We hear some weird advice and we want to figure it out guys. We want to clear the air. We just also want you to realize what happens like when you casually say one thing to a breastfeeding mom and the series of events that is likely to occur after the fact. It’s very casual to you. It’s a recommendation that you’re parroting from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

You know, so you’re parroting from them and their advice is really outdated and actually does not seem like they had any kind of lactation consultant on whatever board was deciding on those recommendations. So we want to kind of bridge the gap here, invite anybody in who’s working with baby teeth and nursing moms to kind of come on in.

We’re just going to take a little walk through the situation and figure this out together. Yeah. And. I just want to say, like repeat a few of the things that we’ve heard clients tell us, which is really discouraging. And then, and then, you know, let’s pick that apart. Like I’ve, I’ve heard people tell me that their dentists recommended they wean their baby by one so their baby doesn’t get cavities.

Yeah. I’ve heard this one. If you don’t brush your baby’s gums after every feeding session, their baby teeth will come in rotten. Yeah. And lots of comparisons between breastfeeding while co-sleeping and bottle propping. I mean, just stuff that feels really off the wall as a lactation professional.

And by the way, just as an aside. Bottle propping is not recommended for so many reasons, not just the teeth. The whole premise is an adult is not present to monitor the feeding. You know, an infant is left with a bottle, literally propped in their mouth, either in a crib or in a boppy or some kind of device. And you don’t know if they’re choking, you don’t know if they’re actually eating maybe the bottle’s empty, but it all went on the pillow.

So like, baby, didn’t actually get a feeding so you don’t really know. There’s a huge difference between that and co-sleeping and breastfeeding. Like we just, that needs to be separate. So I, I just want to like break right into the research here because there’s not very much of it, but I, but I want to just break the ice there and then we can go into everything else.

So, first I want to mention, I think where a lot of these guidelines come from is there were two systematic reviews of breastfeeding in tooth decay from 2015 and 2017. And their conclusion was that breastfeeding up to 12 months protects against tooth decay. However, breastfeeding beyond 12 months increase the risk of tooth decay.

However, the results did not take into account things like bottle feeding breast milk versus direct feeding, socioeconomic status, intake of sugary foods and drinks, or like really even general dental hygiene. I mean, there was so much not taken into account here. So, and by the way so we can make this very clear from the beginning after 12 months, the baby’s been on solid foods.

So we have a lot of confounding variables. Like we don’t know if these parents are actually giving their kid Gatorade in between the breastfeeding sessions, you know? Yeah. These were really not enough to point to causation, right? To say breastfeeding beyond 12 months causes tooth decay. But then there were some more recent studies on that.

So one from 2020 found that the risk of tooth decay was not linked to breastfeeding beyond 12 months. And the main factors involved were a high intake of sugary foods and drinks and low socioeconomics. And then another one from 2019 found no significant association between tooth decay and breastfeeding beyond 24 months in children who were living in areas with fluoridated water.

So that’s water with fluoride in it suggesting that early life access to drinking water that has fluoride is an important factor in reducing tooth decay regardless. And really like, that’s kind of the major studies we have. Boom, that’s it. I mean, that doesn’t even feel like a jumping off point for me.

It’s kind of like, oh, okay. Thank you. That’s the equivalent of like being at a cocktail party and someone just randomly comes over to you and starts giving you advice that barely makes any sense. And you’re like, okay. Okay, bye. So nice to meet you. Need another mojito here. That was weird. But then I actually want to flip that all on its head and say, okay, so breast milk is this amazing thing.

And every, you know, every time we study it, we find out new protective properties and new benefits. So can breastmilk actually protect against tooth decay? Right. And of course, very limited research suggests perhaps it can. So, you know, here’s the other side of that coin. We have antibodies in breast milk that could reduce the growth of bacteria, including streptococcus mutans, which is like the main bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Right. And then lactoferrin is a protein in breast milk, which actually kills that strain of streptococcus. Cool. And also some studies suggest that streptococcus mutans maybe cannot even metabolize lactose that’s the sugar in breast milk, which would mean that like it’s not feeding off of sugary milk to then, you know, multiply and eat teeth and cause tooth decay.

Right. And beyond that, what other enzymes are in baby saliva that are not in adult saliva, because we have other studies that show that baby saliva has magical properties with enzymes that are doing much different things than an adult saliva sample would do in a Petri dish. So it’s not just the breast milk.

It’s the combination of trusting your baby’s mouth microbiome and your baby’s specific enzymes and the magic of breast milk to know what’s going on. You know, think about how many babies have been breastfeeding for millions of years. It would not be in nature’s best interest to create a scenario where babies had rotten teeth from the get-go.

Yeah, absolutely. And, and to support that, archeological studies of the teeth of prehistoric children show that there was very little tooth decay. And it can really be assumed that babies who survived beyond their babyhood would have breastfed for long periods of time. They had attentive parents who were feeding them and who stayed with them and protected them.

And most likely they breastfed until they were five or six or who knows maybe longer. They probably slept with their parents who were breastfeeding them all night long, because this is really a biological norm that we see over so many species of mammals, because it simply is a way that we keep them safe.

Yeah. And also you have to think about the other things that breastfeeding does for the mouth. So expanding the palate. You know, making sure the palate is growing the way it’s supposed to grow so teeth have space when they come in. If you have a bunch of teeth that are crowded, that’s going to create more opportunities for bacteria and solid foods when you start to get stuck in there. We want a nice wide palate with plenty of room for everything to come in correctly. And breastfeeding does do that for your baby. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it leaves us to think then, okay. If we’re thinking skeptically, like, all right. You know, prehistoric kids didn’t have tooth decay.

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Why do we have it? The biggest change is our diet. A lot of the things that we eat literally nonstop are extremely high in simple sugars and carbohydrates that just are not readily available when we look at our natural ecosystems that we would have been living in as prehistoric humans. And then we also have bottle feeding, right?

That’s another big change. Oh, it’s like it’s changed in every single way. I mean, it changes the muscles that you use. It changes the way that the babies suck. Like they have to actually overuse the buccinator muscle in their cheeks to continue creating and recreating that negative pressure to suck on the bottle.

So if you’re leaving the bottle in the baby’s mouth, it’s just drip, drip dripping into the mouth, and that’s where the milk stays as opposed to breastfeeding, where that nipple is literally being drawn all the way to the soft palate and the milk is getting squirted down the throat. It’s barely even touching the rest of the mouth.

And, you know, if we’re in a situation where baby isn’t really sucking, but they’re kind of sleeping with the breast in their mouth, it doesn’t drip all night. So, you know, that’s a really different scenario, even if we’re feeding breast milk from a bottle and not formula. And then we also have if we’re feeding expressed breast milk as we talked about in our episode for like storage guidelines.

We just don’t know exactly what that storage does to all of these properties of breast milk. We don’t have reliable studies, you know, beyond three months in the freezer, nine months in the fridge. So, you know, maybe some of these enzymes and whatnot, just, they don’t react in the mouth the same way, but, and, and the studies that we have relating tooth decay to breastfeeding take literally none of this into account.

Yeah. There’s so many factors all the time with breastfeeding studies, so many different things to consider. I mean, and also I keep thinking about like the people that are actually accessing dental care, you know, because on one hand I’m like, yes, socioeconomic status matters. But then on the other hand, if somebody is going to the dentist and dentists are still seeing this in people that do have access to care it does make me wonder anecdotally.

So if you’re a dentist who is experiencing this over and over repeatedly with breastfeeding clients’ children, write to us and tell us, you know, what you’re seeing anecdotally as a dentist, because we do not know that. And that is very fascinating to me because as midwives, you know, we read the studies and then there’s like our intuition and our expert opinion, which comes from being around it.

So please tell us at milkminutepodcast@gmail.com you can just send us an email. That’d be great. Yeah. But, you know, now that we have like trudged through the swamps of, of really terrible data and unclear studies and anecdotal data and just all the stuff that we don’t like to present to you as real evidence, thankfully, we do have some pretty definitive reasons for why people experience tooth decay in general. Yes. In general. But also we have to make clear that baby teeth are still important. So baby teeth, aren’t like shit teeth that are just, oh, they’re going to fall out anyway. So it doesn’t matter. Baby teeth are extremely important for a number of reasons.

So not only do they help children speak clearly and chew in a more natural way, they also aid in forming the path the permanent teeth can follow when they’re ready to erupt. Absolutely. So we do have to take it seriously when we’re talking about the care of baby teeth. These are not just like practice teeth, and it doesn’t matter if they, if they rot.

No, it’s, it’s important. And we, you know, everybody without dental insurance out there knows that your tooth health is very important for your general body health. Like we get horrible infections there, it’s awful. And we do have some studies that were not looking at breastfeeding, just seeing why humans get tooth decay, why kids get tooth decay with much more definitive answers.

So let’s just, I kind of want to go through this because then you can have a list of things that are more causational and that you can then control for in your own life with your own kids without giving up breastfeeding.

Number one is sugar intake. Frequent exposure to sugar laden food and drinks causes tooth decay, period. End of story.

So that doesn’t mean your kids can never have sugar again, but you can limit your child’s intake of food and drinks with high like free sugar content. Adding fluoride to drinking water, which I really totally know is a super, super controversial topic. Fluoridated drinking water is a very controversial topic, but we do know that adding it to drinking water does reduce tooth decay. So if you feel comfortable with that, that’s something you can do. And if you’re having a trauma response to the times in elementary school, where they would line you up next to the sink and give you a tiny Dixie cup of bubble gum flavored fluoride and made you all rinse together and simultaneously swish.

And then there was always that one kid that parents wrote the note that said they didn’t have to do it that would sit there and watch all of you painfully swish the bubblegum around in their mouth. Why did they make that taste so bad? Why did they make it so awkward? I don’t know. I just, I would do it at the dentist with this like, it was like a mouth guard full of fluoride that just like slowly expanded and made me feel like I was just drowning. You just feel it dripping down your throat. Just keep your throat open. And they’re like don’t swallow. Okay. And I’m like 20 more minutes. When the little egg timer goes off, you can spit it out.

Okay. Anyway, maybe just once I want a little kid to spit that out and be like, you got your money. I’m done with this. You can bill for it. I’m out. Give me the little straw, the sucker, the sprayer, I’m leaving. Well a less controversial topic. We do know that streptococcus mutans is like the number one bacterium that causes tooth decay.

We also know that actually parents, caregivers, siblings, friends, et cetera, can transmit this to baby without realizing it by kissing, sharing a toothbrush, sharing a drink, et cetera. So if you suffer from tooth decay, consider like instead of licking the pacifier before you give it back to baby, just like running it under tap water.

Yeah. Yeah. So spit. Saliva. Saliva reduces the risk of tooth decay because it washes sugars from your mouth and it keeps this like, it has this healthy microbiome to fight them. So we want to avoid things that would reduce saliva flow. So some medications like anti-histamines, benzodiazepines, anti-nausea meds, stuff like that will reduce saliva.

I just can’t stop thinking about how much saliva my children have now that you mentioned that. They are so juicy. Isn’t it incredible? That like my son is eight and his lips are rosy red and shiny constantly because he is moist. Does he have cavities? No. Yeah. Nope. My son also just like randomly drools and no cavities, and I will say he is bad at brushing his teeth and I am bad at fixing his dental hygiene.

Well, one thing at a time. You do other things, you know, like positive affirmations with him and, you know, interesting British radio talk shows on a little device that you have. What is that thing called? Oh, oh, it’s the yoto player. Guys, if you haven’t, if you don’t know me in person out there you don’t know this, but my six-year-old sort of has like a British accent.

And we don’t like, we listen to a lot of British media, but I don’t actually know if that’s where it came from. And, and often people comment on this, especially if they don’t know my husband. They’re like, oh, is your husband from Europe? Yes, he is. Your son has an interesting accent and nope, just don’t know where that’s from. Enjoy it. It’s cute. He listens to his British yoto player.

I feel like it actually comes out more when he’s being a little asshole, like when he’s being really pretentious too. Mummy I cannot stand you and the way you make me brush my teeth. Right? If you’re British, please feel free to make fun of that. Oh dear. Teeth decay. Okay. Moist mouths, go. So not something you can necessarily control, but something you can be aware of is that maternal or fetal illness and stress during pregnancy does appear to have some kind of correlation with infant tooth decay.

So. Just like, again, not really like causation, but some kind of correlation with that. Don’t know why, but you know, then we have obvious ones just like having a poor diet, having poor oral hygiene of your whole family. And, you know, that’s just, I get it. Sometimes we’re in that situation and it’s something that we can work on.

You know, you don’t have to be like, well, shit. Yeah. I feed my kids a shitty diet, and then they don’t always brush their teeth. And now we’re just going to have tooth decay. Just, you know, like, we’re always saying we can’t fix this all-in-one day. You just, you make the best choice you can today and you try to keep building on it.

And finally, this is the one where I feel like I am just suffering greatly from this is family genetics. There are just cases of a higher incidence of enamel defects in certain families. Hmm. So I just want to talk about some things that parents can consider to help their children avoid tooth decay.

And you know, like taking care of kids is hard. I definitely don’t do all of these with my kids every day, but like, it’s kinda nice to have a goal. Right. Goals are good. Yeah. So I’ll tell you first, what is not on this list? Weaning is not on this list. Okay. Just to be clear, not on our list. Okay. So accustoming your child to oral care from a very young age, prior to them getting teeth.

So, you know, gently rubbing down their gums every night with like the little washcloth or one of those little cute, like finger toothbrushes that’s like a finger puppet. And then, you know, when your child grows teeth beginning to clean them twice a day with, you know, toothbrush and toothpaste, or just beginning again, with like a rubdown. And taking care of your own dental hygiene.

Again, this reduces the amount of bacteria transmitted to your child. And we talk a lot about sharing a microbiome with your child. So taking care of yourself has a positive impact on your child. Yeah. And then just to piggyback onto that, and this is from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. I like this recommendation.

I think it’s easy to remember. I’m glad that they came up with it. It’s the one plus one equals zero rule. So one dental visit when there’s one tooth can equal zero cavities. So it’s either when you have one tooth or when your one-year-old that you should be going to see the dentist for the first time and then take that bar of expectation and lower it way down, because the best part of that visit is to get the kid used to going to the dentist and like a positive experience.

This should not be torture. So if you have a child who’s one and you’re like, oh, we’re going to go see the dentist. And that dentist is not respecting the situation and they’re forcing the child to do something or they’re making it worse by you know, forcing their finger in their mouth or stressing them out, stop it.

Like we’re done. This should be like, there’s not much that they’re going to be getting done in that visit. It’s not like a full teeth cleaning. Your kid should be getting a toy and a sticker. They get a sticker; they get to meet their new dentist. We get, they get praised like good job, like, oh, you know, you’re doing such a good job at the dentist.

And like, they get a chance to show the dentist their mouth, like open wide and show them your teeth. It’s great. That’s a great visit. So don’t think that they’re going to go strap them to the chair, get in there with all their instruments and their headlamp. Welcome to the dentist. You know, it’s like when my vet told me to take my puppy to the vet, just like for a treat randomly so she would like get used to going.

Yeah. Yeah. And you know, you want that because the more that the kid is accepting of having providers take good care of them the more willing they are later in life to seek it out. It’s just a lifelong health care situation that we’re trying to promote. And also it can end up saving you money in the end.

So even if you do have to pay for the visit with cash, a good dental visit once a year can actually save you a lot of money down the line by preventing other illnesses, infections and just orthodontics and all of that. And, and I just want to normalize too that that is not always possible. So if that is something that you can do, please do it. If not, don’t feel guilty about it, especially in the United States. Our healthcare system is super broken. Getting access to dental care is really difficult. Personally, I was not able to bring my son to the dentist until he was four. I had to wait to go on a free day which like this one dentist has once a year, you know. Thankfully they also hire people to dress up as dental superheroes on that day.

It was a good experience. He had no cavities. Hooray. I don’t think it’s anything I really did. I think it’s just; his dad has better tooth genetics than I do. Well, and I do want to shout out the WVU School of Dentistry and they’re Give Kids a Smile Day where they have the dental students come and do their clinicals and do free exams and cleanings for the kids.

And it’s fun because all the kids get to be there together and they get to see other kids there in like a big room and it’s like chaotic, but great. And frankly, you know, as a mom who was using WIC and was maxed out on all credit cards from paying off a divorce and working with just a nurse’s salary, which is great, but I live in a town where the cost of living is very high. It was difficult. I mean, it was everything I could do. So I was, I waited every year for that, Give Kids a Smile Day and I was so appreciative of it. And my son loved it. And to this day he still loves going to the doctor and the dentist he’s like the star patient.

And they always say, we should video you for dental students because you do so well. So, you know, don’t be ashamed. If you have to use those resources, they are there for a reason. They’re wonderful. And the people that run them have very big hearts and a big mission. And don’t be afraid to call a dentist usually it’s the bigger practices that do stuff like this and to say, Hey, like, do you offer any discounted or free services for children? You know, worst answer, they’re going to say no and you hang up and call somebody else or a dental school or whatever. Exactly. And, you know, can I just though, switch gears a little bit and put the AAPD’s feet to the fire?

Yeah. So if you actually look at their recommendations, I was like pissed. Okay. So they clearly did not focus on continuing breastfeeding beyond one year of age. Okay. I know that’s not the focus of their recommendation. I get that, but this is a direct quote from their statement. Okay. “Breastfeeding should be discontinued once the first baby tooth appears and other sources of nutrition have been introduced.” What the shit? That is a direct quote from the AAPD.

And I was, that is not on my list of things that you can do to prevent tooth decay in your children. Exactly. And so I just help, help me understand this dentists, help me understand your organization. Are you mad about it? Because I was mad about it. That doesn’t makes sense. Like here is the thing. Breast milk, human milk is literally the only food made just for humans.

That’s it. That’s it. It logically follows that it should not cause us harm. And not to mention, just at like a superficial hoity toity level, that statement by the AAPD directly contrary indicates other position statements by well-known organizations like the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Many, many others. Why don’t we get them all together in a room and hash that out? Get on the same page there, because you can’t get, this is why parents are confused because even at the highest level, these professional organizations are saying contradictory things. And then parents end up just going on Google and being like, oh, what am I supposed to do?

Should I stop breastfeeding because my baby has a tooth, even though they’re four months old? No, you shouldn’t and I have a few more things that you can do that are actually pretty easy to do. Tell them. So if your child gets anything other than breast milk, including medications, just clean their teeth before bed, even if you’re going to breastfeed after that, because breast milk combined with sugar is worse than just breast milk.

That makes sense. Yeah. If your child is eating solids, encourage them to take a sip of water after meals to help wash food particles away, especially if your kid is like my kid and I breastfeed after, and then she opens her mouth and spits out like half of the food that she’s been keeping in her cheeks, like a chipmunk while she’s been breastfeeding.

Okay. And then the last thing I want to recommend is to reduce the amount of time that sugary substances contact the teeth, which looks like not allowing your baby or toddler to carry around a cup, bottle, sippy cup of anything just constantly during the day that’s not water. Right. So don’t just let them randomly suck on the bottle of formula or juice or breast milk.

Keep those two mealtimes, take them away when they are done. Give them a sip of water. Right? Because when we have kids that are just attached to that sippy cup of juice, we have a lot of tooth decay problems. And, you know, again, we’re just going to do our best to avoid an excess of sugary sticky foods.

Yeah. And you know, if you’re doing that for your baby, you should probably do it for yourself too. Except when you need to hide in the closet and take from your candy stash. Yeah. Except then, I mean, I’m not gonna lie. I enjoyed a good Almond Joy with my Last Kingdom session this morning, I really did.

And it’s like, I love that the almond is always displaced a little, so it’s like, which end do I want to start on? The coconut end or the almond end? It’s never in the middle. So I just want to like wrap this up and continue to break the mold Heather. Cause you know, we have a format for episodes. I’m just over it today. Cause we’ve had a hard day.

Heather, did you know I have an Etsy shop? Yes I creep on there regularly. Well, listeners, if you didn’t know out there, I have an Etsy shop with my personal artwork on there. I have stickers, posters, t-shirts but my favorite items are my surprise mugs. I have a couple of color changing mugs featuring my little illustrations of vulvas and breasts.

And boy, are they a surprise, especially when you give it to your boss that you do not like, and they pour hot coffee in it and labia’s abound. I like to give them to like my mom or dad when they visit for them a cup of tea and watch their face. And really, I think everybody needs these in their home. So if you would like one for yourself or anything else that I make you can visit etsy.com/shop/thewanderingwom6.

That’s etsy.com/shop/thewanderingwom6, but with the six instead of a b. And of course that link will be in the show notes. Thanks.

I’m giving us an award. Yay. Because we deserve it today. We busted our butts to get here, to record and I just, sorry guys. Tooting my own horn. Maureen’s given herself an award. I’m going to, I’m going to take it. Thank you. I think we should. Why not? Take time to celebrate yourself today also. Follow our lead.

Go celebrate yourself. Whether that’s a French press and Almond Joy, the Last Kingdom, ho ho. Maybe doing some dental care, you know, that I have a dental kit that I bought off Amazon for like 10 bucks. And, you know, it just makes me feel good to know that I have it. I don’t know how to use it, but I have it.

Oh yeah. I, yeah, let’s just, let’s just focus on what we did well and not what we didn’t do. Right. That’s right. Don’t worry about it. We’re just going to, today we’re going to brush our teeth better and encourage our kids to do so as well. And tomorrow we’ll do the same.

I’m wrapping you in a giant old man Goodwill sweater and giving you a big toothy smile and a hug. Okay guys. Well, thank you for tuning into another episode of The Milk Minute Podcast. The way we change this big system that is not set up for breastfeeding parents is by educating ourselves, our families and our children. If you care to join us over on our Patreon for as little as a dollar a month, you can get so many extras, videos and exclusive merch. But you know what’s free? Sharing this episode with a friend who you think might benefit from it.

And that’s also a great way to help the podcast to grow. And we would appreciate all of the sharing. Okay. Well, bye guys. Toodly do.

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