How Breastfeeding Affects Your Child’s Oral Health
CHOOSING TO BREASTFEED a child is a personal and special decision for each mother and each pregnancy.
At Sunny Days Dental, we are cognizant of the work life balance necessary
to even ALLOW a mother the ability to make that choice. As a basic rule,
sufficient paid maternity leave and an actively involved partner or other
adult living with the new family will significantly increase the likelihood
the mother can even make the choice to breastfeed those first few months.
Hopefully our country will catch up with understanding the significance
of these basic necessities!
Not only does nursing provide a valuable bonding experience for mother
and baby, it also has many potential health benefits, such as decreasing
the child’s risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and lowering
the chances of mom developing breast and ovarian cancer.
But what effect can breastfeeding have on baby’s oral health and
Breastfeeding Aids in Bite Alignment
You may not have known that the sucking mechanisms are different for bottle-fed
and breastfed babies. Breastfeeding stimulates muscle tone in the jaw
because it requires the use of the jaw muscles more so than bottle-feeding.
A study published in “Pediatrics” also showed that
babies who were exclusively breastfed for six months were 72 percent less
likely to have crooked teeth.
With that being said, it is important to remember that
every child is different. Breastfeeding does not guarantee that a child will not have future orthodontic
problems just as bottle-feeding does not always lead to bite misalignment.
There are many factors that go into bite alignment such as thumb-sucking,
pacifier use and genetics.
Decrease Your Child’s Risk of Tooth Decay
Breastfed babies have a reduced risk of cavities. This is simply because
they aren’t at risk for baby bottle toothdecay. Baby bottle tooth
decay happens when a child is put to bed with a bottle that contains formula,
milk, or fruit juice. During your child's initial dental visit here
at Sunny Days Dental in East Austin, we will discuss your family's
homecare practices and any customizations that can be made to optimize
your child's oral health.
To prevent decay, whether bottle feeding or breastfeeding, gently wipe
your infant’s gums with a wet washcloth or soft towel after feedings. Later, when your child’s teeth finally make an appearance, start
brushing them with a small toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste twice daily.
For children under three, use no more than a smear of toothpaste, approximately
the size of a grain of rice.
And good news, moms.
The eruption of teeth doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding. Every mother and every child is different. Start weaning your child whenever
it is right for both of you!
Moms, Don’t Neglect Your Own Oral Health
Mothers with newborns tend to be completely focused on taking care of
the new addition to their family, which is how our infants develop best!
But, moms (and dads!), don’t let that get in the way of setting
enough time aside to focus on your oral hygiene.
Cavity prevention is even more crucial for new parents, as bacteria can
be transferred from you to your baby.
We Want Healthy Smiles for Mothers and Their Children
Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, or a combination
of both, it’s up to parents to start their children off right when
it comes to their oral health and development.
If you have any questions concerning pediatric oral health care, give us a call. Our job is to keep families smiling!
To our patients and friends, thank you. And to all those tech companies
moving into Austin, can we get some paternity leave already??!!