The Impact of Breastfeeding on the Dental Health of Children

Mother breastfeeding her newborn child

Choosing between breastfeeding and formula feeding is one of the biggest decisions new mothers must make. But did you know this choice could affect your baby’s dental health?

Breastfeeding can influence your baby’s bite and risk of having cavities. Here are ways breastfeeding impacts these two crucial dental health conditions.

Breastfeeding can reduce bite problems

Research shows that breastfed kids tend to have fewer teeth alignment problems. To reduce your child’s risk of having an open bite, cross bite or overbite, exclusively breastfeed him or her for the first six months. Here are two ways breastfeeding can reduce the risk of malocclusion.

  • Development of bone and muscle – Drawing milk from a breast is more active than getting milk from a bottle. Breastfed kids experience more facial muscle activity than bottle-fed babies. More facial activity, then, affects positively on the development of a child’s facial bones and muscles. Adequate craniofacial growth and healthy development of jawbone ensure enough space for incoming teeth. Adequate space reduces the chance of teeth alignment issues.
  • Improved nasal breathing – A mom’s nipple adapts automatically to the internal shape of the suckling child’s mouth. The resulting oral seal promotes the development of nasal breathing. Nasal breathing reduces the chance of a child developing open-mouth posture. Kids who nasal breathe are less likely to have malocclusions associated with excessive vertical facial dimensions.

However, remember that genetics, thumb sucking and pacifier use also affect teethe alignment. Therefore, take your child to a dental office in South Jordan so a dentist can monitor eruption.

Breastfeeding lowers the chance for early dental caries

Mother kissing her baby

Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when deciduous teeth are exposed to sugar. This exposure often happens when a child is put to bed with a baby bottle. The sugar from the sweet beverages in the bottle coats the child’s teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feast on the sugar and produce enamel-eating acid.

Here are reasons breastfeeding has a protective effect against early childhood dental caries.

  • Lactose in breast milk is less cariogenic than sucrose in substitutes – Although breast milk contains sugar, much of it is in the form of lactose. The bacteria in the mouth don’t like lactose because they are less able to metabolize it. They prefer the sucrose in formula milk and other sweet beverages.
  • Breast milk has antibodies – The antibodies and proteins in breast milk help impede bacterial growth in the mouth. Slowed growth reduces the risk of the demineralization of enamel.
  • Anatomy of a mother’s nipple vs. bottle’s nipple: Unlike a mother’s nipple, a bottle’s nipple can block the access of saliva to the baby’s upper incisors. Less saliva on teeth coated with sugar encourages dental caries.

While exclusive breastfeeding may protect your baby against caries, breastfed kids are not immune to this prevalent disease. Wipe your child’s gums every day. And as soon as the first tooth erupts, brush the child’s mouth twice daily.

Breastfeeding has a protective effect against bite problems and dental caries. Various mechanisms contribute to this crucial effect. But whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed, take good care of your child’s mouth.

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