Does Breastfeeding Alter the Oral Health Development for Your Child?
Posted on 12/21/2020 by Lindsey Holt
There are many conflicting opinions about the possible advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding, both for the mother and the child. For new mothers, the decision about whether or not to breastfeed is a very personal one. As a new mom, you may not be overly concerned with your baby's oral health until their first tooth comes in. However, there are some surprising benefits of breastfeeding that can help your baby develop healthy teeth and kick start good oral hygiene from a very young age.
Bottles Can Contribute to Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when a baby's teeth are exposed to sugar for prolonged periods of time. This sometimes happens when babies are put to bed with a bottle and fall asleep while drinking. The breast milk, formula, or juice from the bottle will pool in the sleeping baby's mouth, exposing the teeth to sugar found in these drinks. Even though breast milk naturally contains sugar (as does formula), breastfeeding involves continuous sucking and swallowing, which prevents the milk from pooling in your baby's mouth and reduces the chance of prolonged exposure to sugar. The sugar found in breast milk does not contribute to cavities and tooth decay compared to other sugary foods that babies sometimes consume, and breast milk also contains nutrients that help your baby grow strong, healthy teeth.
Breastfeeding Can Encourage a Better Bite
Studies have shown that breastfed babies (specifically those who were breastfed for their first six months) are less likely to have issues with the alignment of their teeth than babies who were breastfed for less than six months or not at all. Bite issues can lead to your child needing braces or other orthodontic work when they are older, and can also contribute to other issues such as TMJ. However, this does not mean that breastfeeding will completely prevent any bite issues, so it is always important to keep up with your child's regular dental checkups. For more information, contact our office today.