As a pediatric dentist, I’m most focused on the question, “will milk do your teeth good”? Naturally, National Milk Day got me thinking about the benefits of breastfeeding when it comes to your child’s dental health. Most moms do their research before making this very personal decision for their baby. They find some of the most common benefits for the baby are:
Increase your baby’s ability to fight infections and reduce health risks like:
Lowering the mother’s chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer is a significant benefit for moms. Above the individual interests, there is a shared benefit shared by both the mother and the child. Breastfeeding can impact the dental health of both, and here’s how:
Could Improve bite
Recent studies, one in Pediatrics in 2015 and one in the August 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, found that babies exclusively breastfed for the first six months were less likely to have problems such as open bites, cross-bites, and overbites than those only breastfed for shorter lengths of time or not at all.
Concluding that exclusively breastfed babies won’t need braces someday would not be accurate. Other factors that can affect alignments, such as pacifier use, genetics, and thumbsucking. Taking your child to a pediatric dentist who will monitor your child’s tooth eruption, the timing of new teeth coming in, and permanent teeth for the best outcome.
Reduces the Risk for Tooth Decay
When putting a baby to bed with a bottle – even ones containing formula, milk, or fruit juice it increases the chances of tooth decay because of the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks containing sugar. While breastfeeding can reduce the risk for tooth decay, it does not eliminate the threat as both breast milk and formula contains sugar. Properly caring for your baby’s gums and teeth from the start by wiping the gums with a clean, moist washcloth daily. After the first tooth erupts, brush twice a day. Use fluoride toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice and remember a healthy smile is a Joyful Smile!