To wean or to not wean, that is the question (nightwean) - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-15-2007, 04:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Cayden has some tooth decay on his upper teeth. Some of his enamel is now gone and he has brown spots. He has one tooth that has chipped at the bottom edge, either from an accident or from being a weak tooth (not sure which one)
I'll back track a bit:
I took him to a pediatric dentist after he was one year old because he had a couple white spots and the start of a brown spot. They were concerned that I hadn't been in sooner and VERY concerned that I wasn't using fluoride toothpaste. They were very shocked at the condition of his teeth and didn't believe me when I told them that we brushed his teeth twice a day. They had me very worried and feeling guilty, so I let them put a fluoride varnish on his teeth to help repair 'the damage' that I had caused through neglecting the care of his teeth. The varnish was a 3 appointment type varnish, so I had to see them 2 more times within 10 days. While at the visits I mentioned Xylitol, which they had never heard of, as well as Cayden's many allergies (Dairy, Soy and Wheat) to which they were somewhat surprised but happy that I was still nursing him (remember he was only 14 months old at the time) But they strongly urged me to night wean him. Or keep a wet cloth by the bed to wipe his teeth with after each feeding. That of course seems completely ridiculous to me since Cayden still nurses to sleep. I brought up the fact that it could be genetic, and they didn't seem to think so. I brought up that it could be my saliva getting into his mouth (through sharing a banana or spoon or something) and my bacteria doing damage and they didn't seem to think so.
We have been to that pediatric dentist 3 times and since starting flouride toothpaste, receiving the flouride varnish and brushing 'well' to their standards, Cayden's teeth have gotten much worse. So now we are at the point where some enamel is gone, there are major brown spots and there is that mysterious chip on one tooth.
We have just started bringing him to a naturopath about his allergies and about the tooth decay. I wanted them to help heal and stop in its tracks, what is happening to his teeth. So far that has been good, we are giving him homeopathics, probiotics and vitamin D (which is something we didn't give until recently and I think part of the reason he may have weak teeth)
It is believed that Cayden's allergies might be affecting his teeth, so we are trying to heal his gut.
But here's the kicker, the naturopath wants me to night wean. He doesn't want me to wean completely, but he doesn't want breast milk touching Cayden's teeth at night and sitting on them. He doesn't say that the bm has caused the problem, but he says that its not helping the situation.
So I feel kinda stuck in the middle. Cayden is almost 2, so I know it wouldn't be a hug bad thing to night wean. If it is making the decay worse, then I don't want to keep doing it. But I wanted to wait to night wean until Cayden could understand 'no nursing until it's light out', I was liking the gradual, less and less waking to nurse. He doesn't get sick too often, and I think it's because of all the nursing.

To wean or not wean? (nightwean only)

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Old 12-15-2007, 05:47 PM
 
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Ugh, what a worrisome situation . If I was considering night-weaning specifically because of dental issues, I think I'd want the opinion of a breastfeeding-friendly dentist. We are going to drive all the way out to Chilliwack to see Dr. Miriam Liem, who was recommended by Skymoma and others.

There are a lot of developmental and genetic factors that can contribute to enamel problems. Here's a paper that discusses many of the factors, for example. This book illustrates (fig 77.2) the pattern of caries that supposedly arises from frequent breastfeeding (vs bottle feeding) - is this the pattern that your ds has?

I did partially and temporarily night-wean ds around that age when I was pregnant and couldn't cope with the crazy amount of night-nursing that ds was doing. I did a lot of back-patting and shushing to soothe him back to sleep and he did eventually adjust. I think your ds probably is old enough to understand if you decide to go that route.

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Old 12-15-2007, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The 'B' looks like ds, only his bottom teeth are not affected at all.

I wonder if Dr. Liem has any recommendations of other dentists closer to Vancouver?

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Old 12-15-2007, 07:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I emailed a trusted AP Professional and this is what she wrote back:


It seems that so few health proffessionals understand the importance of nursing, the role it plays in a child's developing sense of confidence, or how it does *not* cause tooth decay.

As I'm sure you know, the mechanics of breastfeeding prevent the milk from passively pooling behind the teeth the way bottle milk would. Because the nipple is so far back in the baby's throat, and because milk doesn't flow unless the baby is actively latched on and sucking, the whole "bottle mouth" syndrome simply does not occur. As I am sure you also know, breast milk is completely sterile for teeth, and does not contain cavity-causing bacteria. Other foods do. And grown-up saliva does. And both of these can indeed cause tooth decay.

My understanding is that your diet while pregnant greatly impacts the formation of the baby's tooth buds, and can affect how strong or weak the teeth are forevermore. I believe that this has more to do with the teeth's eventual susceptibility to decay than anything else (other than breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, of course).

Here are a few articles about breastfeeding & tooth decay:

http://breastfeed.com/resources/articles/sweettooth.htm

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/older-baby/tooth-decay.html

http://parenting.ivillage.com/baby/b...,,3x5h,00.html

http://playingitbyear.homeschooljour...-and-toddlers/

http://www.thatsfit.com/2007/10/03/b...decay-in-kids/

http://www.personalmd.com/news/n0127071811.shtml

I, myself, have been hunting for a dentist for my children that understands breastfeeding. I have, for now, settled for one who is tolerant of breastfeeding and shares office space with a naturopath, but he still knows nothing about the centrality of breastfeeding for a child's overall health, and he still does not understand the enormous differences between bottle and breastfeeding on a baby's dental health.

You might want to consider either educationg your naturapath, or finding a new one. We have been quite happy with ours at Balance Health on Commercial Dr, but I have no idea what she would say about something like this. I have heard good things about Bloom Clinic. There are many, many naturopaths in town. Perhaps La Leche League could recommend a good one. In fact, perhaps they could recommend a good dentist too.

I think you are on the right track trying to heal his whole system rather than just the symptoms, but restricting nursing is never conducive to better health. Cayden is not even 2 yet--he still gets a lot of security and peace from nursing, as well as optimal nutrition and immunities. I think you should trust your instincts, and seek out a health professional who will support Cayden's entire being without sacrificing his needs for night-time comfort and nourishment to the need for healing his gut and teeth. It does not seem reasonable that healing the body should involve sacrificing such a strong source of spiritual, emotional, and physical health.

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Old 12-17-2007, 12:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawncayden View Post
I emailed a trusted AP Professional and this is what she wrote back:
I am not quoting the whole email, but I completely agree with your friend. I would not night wean if Cayden really wants to B/F at night. I might promote weaning with the Pantley method. Try to get him off the breast just before he falls asleep. If he starts to cry, offer the breast again but try to take him off again in a little while. Eventually, you will get a better sense when you can take him off (before he had fallen asleep). You can also try to tell him that at one point he won't be nursing at night anymore and whenever he is ready for that you will offer ...(hugs, patting his back, holding his hand etc.). You can tell him that at one point he will also be able to go to sleep without nursing. Tell him that he can then just say "bye-bye" (or whatever) and get off the breast and sleep with you being there. I told my dd2 this without attaching any true expectations when it will happen. To my surprise, a few days later, she said "bye-bye" after some nursing and went to sleep beside me without nursing. That was the start of her night weaning. It took a while longer, but she is sleeping through the night for the last 6 months or more.
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:41 AM
 
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Wow, we have the exact same issue. Haley (27 months) had the exact pattern of decay (brown on the backs of her two front top teeth with a small chip in one) and she is a big nurser, but we aren't going to night wean. She needs to nurse. I an just trying to have her chew xylitol gum and mints through the day, and we floss and brush very well at night. She has temporary fillings in and we're seeing a different ped dentist next month to see what she says. The first ped dentist was at a breastfeeding friendly office as the other dentist there wrote for mothering, but they won't let parents in when kids are getting permanent filings. They didn't suggest night weaning, but sips of water after nursing. That just isn't going to work for us because she still does nurse to sleep many times. I pop her off when she falls asleep, though, she she isn't latched on all night.
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the responses, its great not to feel alone on this.

Me and dh found some info about Amelogenesis Imperfecta online and this looks so much like ds's teeth. I'm wondering if this is what we are dealing with. SInce he has virtually no sugar, juice, junk food and we brush twice a day, and I find it hard to believe breastmilk is the sole cause of his decay, I wonder if this might be our answer?

I will bring it up at our next dentist appointment (as soon as I find a dentist )

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