Breastfeeding and Your Baby’s Dental Health
Welcoming a newborn is an exciting chapter in a parent’s life. Being a mother, you know that breastfeeding will be an immediate focus. Breast milk provides babies with essential nutrients that protect them from infections and disease.
Breastfeeding your baby does not only save money on formula, it also has a positive impact on your baby’s dental health. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop future dental problems, like overbite, open bite, and misaligned teeth.
Essential Breast Milk Nutrients
The benefits that come with breastfeeding a baby are mostly attributed to the breast milk. Some may claim that a mother’s breast milk contains more essential nutrients compared to formula, while others say that the nutrient difference is nominal. However, taking advantage of the possible differences may be advantageous.
The key nutrients found in breast milk include:
- Proteins – Casein helps build strong jaws and teeth. It also contains amino acids for brain and eye development
- Fatty Acids – vital for brain development
- Vitamins – crucial for dental development
Your baby requires all of these essential nutrients to be healthy and strong. They also reduce the risk of tooth decay once the baby’s teeth develop. Although it does contain many helpful vitamins, breast milk lacks Vitamin D, an important nutrient for calcium absorption.
How Breastfeeding Protects Baby’s Oral Health
Babies are more susceptible to dental problems because they rely on their mother to clean their teeth and gums. Unlike adults, babies require more attention to make their gums stronger, which is important for healthier teeth.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of baby bottle tooth decay, a condition caused by frequent and prolonged exposure of sugar-rich liquids, like milk-formula or fruit juices. This type of dental problem often occurs when you put the baby in bed with a bottle or pacifier.
Breast milk also contains antibodies that protect your baby’s oral health from unwanted bacterial growth. It inhibits a bacterium known as Streptococcus mutans, which is linked to tooth decay.
This does not necessarily mean that babies are not completely at risk of dental problems, but it is still crucial to take care of your baby’s teeth and gums as a preventative measure. Clean their gums using a soft, wet, clean cloth or gauze. Brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of non-fluoride toothpaste once they begin teething.
While you may be busy taking care of your baby, moms also need to take care of their own mouths. Poor oral health care routines can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. The bacteria in your mouth can also be transferred to your baby through kissing and feeding.
Set up a routine family dental checkup with a Lambton Shores dentist in either Forest or Kettle Point, Ontario. Call Lambton Shores Family Dental at (519) 704-1400 to book an appointment for you and your baby.