My adorable baby boy is in the other room with the dentist and anesthesiologist having his poor little baby teeth fixed while I freak the hell out all by myself out here in the waiting room.
He sat on my lap to have the mask on his face that initially knocked him out. I knew what was going to happen, but I had no idea how much it would emotionally effect me. I am a freaking basket-case! I had to stay in the room and watch them hook him up to the monitors and have his IV put in, just so I would know he was truly okay.
The dentist did the x-rays and said the fillings would take less than an hour and all things look pretty good as far as what he was expecting to have to do. That's all good. Our dentist is an amazing guy and has been wonderful to not only our children but to me as well. Not once has he let me feel responsible for my baby's poor teeth.
Of course I did research into why one of my five children has such bad tooth decay. We brush his teeth 2-3 times a day (sometimes more)! Yes, he eats sugary things on occasion (the dentist said that actually foods like goldfish crackers are worse on their teeth than candy. He said when kids eat candy we are aware and make sure to brush their teeth, but with foods that crumble and pack into their teeth like goldfish crackers we [parents] don't think anything of it. So the crumbs stay packed into the crevice's of their teeth and boom cavity!).
I found through my research that yes, everyone has different levels of tooth strength which is a factor as to why he has a decay problem and my other children didn't. Everyone has heard of bottle mouth, right? Those kids that are allowed to have bottles in bed and fall asleep with them in their mouths so that the milk (or juice) just sits in their mouths rotting their little teeth while they sleep. But guess what? It turns out that babies can get nursers mouth which is just like bottle mouth! Are you kidding me? You think that by nursing your baby you are giving him the best. You are giving him everything his little body could possibly need by nursing and not bottle feeding.
On that subject, isn't it an interesting double edged sword? If you nurse your baby society (as a group) approves, however doesn't want to observe the mother nursing their baby anywhere. (Even when a mother isn't nursing but someone perceives that she is, then they are offended.) But if you don't nurse your baby then society judges you as being a selfish mother who is obviously more concerned with vanity than her child's welfare. We all know this is a bunch of crap. There are so many reasons on both sides of each option. The easiest of which are: nursing = health of the baby, connection, cost, ease ~~ bottle = connection for father and mother, health of the mother (medications and such), mobility and convenience, and of course inability to nurse. Now those are just off the top of my head, of course there are many many more. This is one of those areas people are very emotionally connected to. Extreme pro-nursing moms (and non moms, which is kinda creepy) can honestly get a bit activist on you if you give off a vibe that 'they' perceive as morally wrong. (Perception is everything and with a whack-job, you really need to be careful what you are communicating!)
But I digress, the point I am making is that I had no idea I could be harming my little guy! I am a stay at home mother so nursing was an obvious choice for me. I never had any issues with nursing my children, it was always easy (and for that I am lucky). My twins were very big babies and I was only able to nurse them for 4 months. To me that wasn't very long, but I am told that it was great for twins. I am sure there are moms of multiples who have done better (but hey my twins were 7lbs 8oz and 7lbs 12oz when they were born) and I am sure their are moms of multiples who wish they could have gone that long. My oldest went 14 months, and Ethan went over that (lets not get into that part for this post). We do the best we can as mothers.
And that's what I thought I was doing...and I sure hope that the health benefits my son received from nursing will far outweigh this horrible dental problem in the long run. But I am still very angry I didn't know he could get 'nursers mouth'. I am pissed I didn't know 'nursers mouth' existed! I consider myself a fairly intelligent woman, I am a college graduate, and I have 5 kids. Being a parent isn't new to me, so how is it that this is something I missed?
The dentist and I had a long conversation about it while Ethan was sleeping in my arms. He said that this is one of the reasons that the age a child should see their dentist for the first time has changed to 1 year old. That's too late though. He said it is a tough issue because pro-nursing 'people' don't want anything negative associated with nursing said or printed. Well this isn't negative unless its ignored and people aren't educated about it! There needs to be a pamphlet at the OB/GYN and the Pediatricians that says hey, nursing is great but you need to wipe your babies teeth off with a gentle cloth afterwards when they fall asleep nursing. Brushing their teeth 2-5 times a day won't help if they fall asleep nursing. Is that so hard? This doesn't sound like a reason not to nurse at all. It is a precaution and education. They have fliers for EVERYTHING else, why not this?!
The dentist just came out and asked me what I wanted to do about the 4 front teeth. It is worse than he thought when reading the x-rays. CRAP! Three of his teeth have decay in the back and are very close to his nerve roots (baby teeth are so small that the nerves are much closer than in adult teeth), so they would need root canals or they would need to be pulled. Doing a root canal on a toddler is no guarantee they will be able to keep their tooth. There is a high rate of complications and then the tooth may have to be pulled anyway. We had already decided to pull one of them earlier because he knew it was to close to the nerve. So now what do I say? (I am typing so I obviously already answered, but that was how I felt when he was asking). He wanted to know if I wanted all 4 front teeth pulled!
Oh my God! I am the worst mother ever!!! How in the world did he get this bad? Did his little teeth hurt him every day before we got to this point? It took a month to make the appointment once the dentist said it was time and before that we came in every 6 weeks for the last year monitoring his teeth and applying fluoride to them. I did exactly what the dentist instructed me to do, since we have been seeing him after Ethan turned 1 year old. The dentist waited as long as he felt was safe because he was trying to avoid the general anesthesia.
So, we are keeping the front tooth that is okay. I can't imagine pulling it just to make it look better (how much better could it look, he is having 3 front teeth pulled!). Who does that? Apparently some do, because he said, "some parents prefer to have them all pulled so it doesn't look funny". That's pretty messed up. He needs that front tooth to help him with his speech. He will probably need speech therapy anyway, but without any top front teeth he wouldn't be able to talk at all.
I keep telling myself that we brush his teeth 2-5 times a day (every day is different as it depends on how many times he eats). What else could I have done???? Other than the now obvious wipe his teeth after he nursed every time? I wish I had known! It sounds like common sense now...but I thought brushing 2-5 times a day would cover that. I wonder if it is worse because he stopped using a binky after 3 months? Does using a binky help the baby swallow the milk in their mouths? If that's true than there is another good reason to give babies binkies.
Aftrer our first appointment at the dentist I found these really neat and useful baby teeth cloths. I started doing research on why Ethan's teeth were so bad and was trying to understand what I had done wrong. I wish I had known about them before he got his teeth!
I think I am posting this more for information sake rather than my sanity. PLEASE, PLEASE let everyone you know, to wipe or brush their babies teeth after nursing every night. Its not enough to brush 2 to however many times daily.
I guess for Halloween this year, Ethan can be a hockey player. All we will need is a hockey stick, a jersey, and maybe a helmet.
All kidding aside, those tooth tissues that are made for baby gums and teeth I mentioned earlier are a great idea and were invented by a husband and wife who are also dentists. When I originally posted this morning I didn't have the link or the information. I do now and have added the information.
Here is the link! Now keep in mind a soft cloth will work just as well since these wipes aren't cheap, but sometimes having a product for a specific use can remind us to use them. Tooth Tissues, they are also carried at online stores like CSN . I plan to promote them to everyone and anyone I can without any compensation other than the comfort of knowing I may help a mother and baby avoid what Ethan and I went through today.
MY RESPONSE TO A NON-MILITANT MOMS COMMENT LEFT ON MY POST:
I highly considered deleting the previous comment on here from 'A Non-militant mom' simply because she accused me of being uninformed and that I would cause hysteria (leaving links that support whaterver her opinion is). She must have felt some strong reason to 'miss the forrest throught the trees' in my post...but not strong enough to leave a way to contact her and discuss it.
I have since changed the settings here just because if you want to tell me my personal experience is all wrong and I am going to cause a panic then at least have the fortitude to identify yourself.
Interestingly enough it sounds as though she doesn't want nursing moms to know that their babies can get tooth decay. Isn't that one of the things I wrote about? My dentist clearly said that anything negative associated with nursing was fought by extreme pro-nursing people. Even though nursing is not negative and tooth decay is not a reason not to nurse! So I guess I found myself an activist pro-nurser that I mentioned in my post.
Okay. Well I am leaving it because I am not wrong in my personal experience. It happened to my son. One out of five children who nursed in our home. Thats 20% in my house and that's enough of a reason to fire me up and get the word out to take precautions. That's it, precautions!
Take your child to the dentist at age 1 (its a short appointment introducing baby to dentist and a quick check of the teeth) and wipe your babies teeth off as they are sleeping in your arms after they nursed. That's it. Doesn't sound like panic or hysteria to me. Does it to you?