Little has been mentioned specifically about how breastfeeding can help your child’s oral health. It is commonly known that breastfeeding is good for both mother and baby. Breast milk provides the baby with nutrients, proteins, immune cells and antibodies that helps a baby’s development and protects against infection. For the mother, breastfeeding is known to prevent breast cancer and reduce the risk of diabetes and ovarian cancer. However, not many people know that breastfeeding can help your child’s oral health.
Breastfeeding can actually prevent malocclusion in your child. Malocclusion can be thought of as upper and lower teeth that don’t fit together well when they are closed together. This is generally caused by poor positioning of the teeth in the mouth or incorrect development of the bones and muscles of the mouth or both.
The way the mother’s nipple sits in the baby’s mouth during breastfeeding is much less intrusive than a teat on a bottle and hence, exerts less force that can push teeth into a bad position. Breastfeeding also works a baby’s lips and tongue more than bottle feeding as it is easier to get milk from a bottle. The increased activity of the muscles of the mouth helps prevent teeth developing in poor positions such as splaying outwards.
Breastfeeding can also prevent against tooth decay. Tooth decay can be thought of as a hole in the tooth caused bacteria damaging the tooth. Bacteria use sugar we leave in the mouth and release acid which destroys tooth structure.
Breast milk contains mainly the sugar lactose which is harder for bacteria to use to form acids compared to the sugar sucrose which is found in infant formulas. Immune cells, antibodies and proteins found in breast milk also slow down the growth of bacteria. The mother’s nipple adapts perfectly to the baby’s mouth unlike teats of bottles, which can trap sugars and bacteria around the front teeth for longer.
For more information on how breastfeeding can help your child’s oral health, ask one of our friendly dentists at Central Brisbane Dental.