There is an ongoing debate about when you should stop nursing your baby. As a pediatric dentist and a hopeful mother-to-be, my goal is to support mommies through this beautiful bonding period by providing the information needed to maintain their baby’s dental health and prevent the development of early childhood caries.
Some vital background information to know- Early childhood caries (ECC), also known as baby bottle tooth decay, is a disease characterized by severe decay in the teeth of infants or young children. Frequent bottle feeding or nursing at night and extended and repetitive use of a no-spill training cup are associated with ECC. Children experiencing caries as infants or toddlers have a much greater probability of subsequent caries in primary and permanent teeth.
What is important to understand is that nursing can continue after your baby begins teething; It just now needs to be done with some minor modifications.
If your baby has one or more teeth I would recommend starting brushing. Use a soft-bristled, baby toothbrush with a half pea size amount of non-fluoride toothpaste. This oral hygiene regimen should be done twice daily and more frequently if you are nursing or bottle-feeding your baby repeatedly through the night. Brushing after each nighttime feeding will make the difference in whether your baby will develop early childhood caries.