Today I visited the doctor with Cutler and she recommended we see a pediatric dentist immediately for possible tooth extraction! What?!? A few months ago he tripped and chipped a tooth. It had a jagged edge and hurt like hell when he nursed, but we got through it. I just assumed it stopped hurting because the edge was wearing down due to use from eating and drinking. Then I noticed a few “spots” on another tooth. It almost looked like a tiny hole in the front enamel of his tooth. I freaked out! When we went to the doctor during that stage I forgot to mention it, but she didn’t bring it up either, and she is very thorough so I thought I had nothing to worry about. WRONG!
She’s thinking he will need IV sedation and tooth extraction of the two damaged teeth AND I have to wean immediately! Ugh. I felt instantly defeated. Really? Is this how she’s going to bully me into weaning? I’m so sick of breastfeeding being the reason for damn near everything wrong with my kids. I love my doctor to death, she’s the most attentive thorough doctor my kids have ever had. I just don’t feel that she understands breastfeeding and all it’s benefits. I couldn’t take that as for sure, I had to do it until I had researched it to the Nth degree, and research I did.
- First I found this article on Kelly Mom. What I learned is that a bacteria called strep mutans causes tooth decay. This bacteria also thrives on sugar. Yes, breastmilk has sugar in it, but it doesn’t add to the problem. Why? Because breastmilk also contains lactoferrin, a component in breastmilk that actually kills strep mutans. I felt a bit better after reading that one. So it seems that breastfeeding may not be the reason for the damage.
Researchers from the University of Athens surveyed 260 children between the ages of 3 and 5 living in Greece. The children were divided into two groups – children with multiple cavities and children with few or no cavities.
Children that were breastfed for more than 40 days were less likely to develop cavities than those who were breastfed for a shorter time, the researchers found. Because of that, the researchers suggest that breastmilk may contain antibodies that inhibit the bacteria that causes tooth decay.
The children who were at the highest risk of developing tooth decay were those who fell asleep with a bottle in their mouth.
The researchers also found some children did not develop cavities, even though they often fell asleep with a bottle, leading the researchers to suggest that there may be a genetic factor linked to the risk of tooth decay.
A separate study published in the journal “Pediatric Dentistry” in the spring of 1999 concluded that human breast milk is not cariogenic, meaning it does not cause dental caries.
- From there I wanted to find the article from Pediatric Dentistry. This sentence scares me:
In laboratory studies, breast milk alone did not damage tooth enamel. But when combined with another sugar source, the breast milk/carbohydrate combination is highly cariogenic.
What that means is that the occasional suckers he gets from the bank, chocolate kisses from my neighbor and sugary fruit snacks from me are aiding in the decay.
- Then I found this article based on research by Dr. Eickson. The gist?
1) – Human breastmilk (HBM) actually deposits calcium and phosphorus onto enamel.
2) – HBM does not cause a significant pH drop in plaque
3) – HBM is not cariogenic UNLESS another carbohydrate source is available for bacterial fermentation.
4) – The buffer capacity of HBM is very poor
5) – HBM supports moderate bacterial growth.
After all this research I was ready to read some stories in the forums. I wanted to hear from other moms that have been in my shoes. How did they handle it? I found some great info on a Berkeley Parents Network. He may still need to have his teeth extracted. I won’t know til we go to the dentist on Wednesday. Here were some other solutions I read about from other moms:
A flouride temporary filler that has been able to keep his teeth from getting any worse while we wait for him to get old enough to sit through fillings and caps. The filler is orange unfortunately but in the big scheme of things who cares. It can stay in for days to months and when it comes out she’s great about seeing us right away to refill them.
There is a particular type of bacteria that can be passed from mother to child via utensil sharing, etc, and some people are more susceptible to it and it doesn’t bother others. People have been nursing their children forever and this does not always happen. They are not 100% sure why it happens to some and not others but seemed pro-nursing with practical solutions like the rinsing and wiping, and getting the child to drink water, not juice, etc. Well, my son had 5 root canals with caps and crowns, and it was the worst day of my life.
Treat cavities with a natural oxygen treatment that really helps in the healing .
I had general anesthesia on my child to fill 6 teeth and it actually went pretty well. They squirted something up his nose to make him drowsy and then set up an IV for the general anesthesia. All he remembers is ”yucky medicine up my nose” and then nothing.
You can find a pediatric dentist who will use oral sedation (where the child is awake, but sedated) in combination with a papoose board. A papoose board is a restraining device, much like a straight jacket that holds the child in place while the dental work is done. 2 or 3 appointments may be needed to finish the dental treatment. This may be medically less scary, but may lead to long term major dental phobia for your child. (Am I the only one completely terrified by the idea of my child awake and strapped down to a table while he gets drilled on?)
Look into laser dentistry. It is a quick and anesthesia-free way of repairing cavities. Dr’s. William Gianni and William Tenant in Berkeley do both laser and conventional dentistry. I went to Dr. Gianni for the first time this summer and it was great. No drills, no anesthesia, no pain. Removing the cavity with the laser pulse took less than a minute. It didn’t hurt at all. It just felt like a little tap-tap-tap. The longest part was filling the cavity, which was only about 5 minutes. I don’t know if they work with children so you should give them a call to find out. Dr. Gianni was very nice and I can imagine he would be good with children. (Laser Dentistry? Cool!)
We were there with the anasthesiologist and our child in the waiting room, while he administered a sort of Valium-like drug in my son’s nose (he did this cleverly and non-traumatically — the idea is it relaxes the child before the actual anasthesia is administered). We did sit with our son during the first part of the anasthesia, until he fell asleep. Then we left the room. Afterwards, he was given to us to hold as he gradually woke up. We were very happy with the results, and are so glad we did it this way.
Then I found something called Enamel Hypoplasia.
Enamel hypoplasia is seen in the mouth clinically as permanently discolored yellow or brown enamel commonly associated with surface pitting caused by several different factors. It says that Depending on the age of the child, prescription strength fluoride may be an option for use at home on a daily basis.
Ask your Dentist about Fluoride Varnishes. These new topically applicated fluoride treatments are available as an inoffice treatment for children as young as one year of age. They deliver about 41/2 times more flouride then the old fluoride treatments. The new varnish treatment is easy to apply and kid friendly. No more trays with goop and suction for 4 minutes. Varnish is applied to the teeth like a mini paint brush and the kids lick and spit or take a drink of water after the 10 second application. They are able to eat and drink immediately. No more having to wait 30 minutes. Restrictions include nothing hard and crunchy to eat, no gum, no alcohol rinses like Listerine, and nothing really temperature hot. Adults benefit from varnish fluorides as well! Fluorides fight sensitivity and decay!
Children can have fluoride varnishes applied twice a year and adults up to four times a year.
Decay is a hard situation to control with enamel hypoplasia, especially with children. Fluoride and proper home care is your best defense. Limiting sugars, carbs that turn into sugars, and eliminating sodas, even diet sodas (due to the acid content) will prevent decay.
So overall I’m overwhelmed and terrified! I hate to think that Cutler’s teeth problems are because of my extended breastfeeding. I’m sick to my stomach just thinking of the pain he will have to endure. It all started out with him falling and lightly chipping his tooth, then it progressed to where we are today. I have nursed him longer than the other two boys, but really! I’m pissed, I’m scared, I’m sad. My poor baby.