Dentist in Laurel, MD Discusses the Oral Health of Breastfed Babies
Breastfeeding is a critical choice mothers make in the first days and weeks of a child’s life. Breastfeeding has been shown to have numerous benefits, including increased ability for children to fight infections. It can also help prevent a number of other health problems such as asthma and childhood obesity. But what about dental health? Believe it or not, breastfeeding has important implications for the dental health of a baby, too.
Breastfeeding Can Improve Your Baby’s Bite
It has been demonstrated that children who were breastfed for the first 6 months of their lives are less likely to have orthodontic issues such as open bites and cross bites. This doesn’t mean, of course, that breastfeeding is a way to prevent the need for braces down the road. What it does mean is that breastfeeding can help your baby’s teeth erupt in an optimal fashion and create a more functional bite when they first get teeth. This can make eating solid foods easier, and teeth in proper occlusion are easier to keep clean.
Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Tooth Decay
A common concern in infants is “baby bottle tooth decay.” This occurs when babies are put to bed with a bottle of formula or other drinks. The tooth decay occurs when these drinks have time to rest on the teeth and cause breakdown of the enamel. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, reduces this risk.
Breastfeeding May Reduce the Risk, but Does Not Eliminate the Risk of Tooth Decay
Believe it or not, breast milk does in fact contain sugar, meaning babies who are exclusively breast fed can still develop cavities. Therefore, it is important to take care of your baby’s oral health even before they get teeth. Rubbing the gums with a damp piece of gauze (or other sterile medium) is wise, and once teeth erupt, they should be brushed twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
By keeping these facts in mind, you can help keep your baby’s developing dentition healthy as you breastfeed. And remember, just because your baby gets his or her first tooth doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines stipulate breastfeeding for one year—an age at which almost all children will have at least one tooth. Just remember to treat your child’s teeth like you would your own—brush twice a day, and avoid sugary, cavity-causing food and drink.
Have questions for your dentist in Laurel, MD? Call Pearl Dental Center of Laurel Lakes today at (301) 490-3993 to schedule an appointment.