How Can Breastfeeding Impact Oral Health?

Breastfeeding has seen a surge in popularity in recent years.The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you breastfeed for the first year, and the World Health Organization recommends two years. While breastfeeding requires some lifestyle changes, there are numerous benefits to this practice. Your baby’s entire life revolves around eating, so consider what breastfeeding does for your baby’s oral health.

Reduce the Risk for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

No bottle means that your baby is not going to bed with a bottle full of formula, milk, or juice that bathe your baby’s teeth and gums in sugar. Without this bottle, your baby is less likely to develop cavities associated with this practice. This does not mean your baby cannot get any cavities, but the risk is reduced. Rather than putting baby to bed with a bottle, you are able to soothe your baby into sleep without keeping sugar in your baby’s mouth all night long.

Whether you are breast or formula feeding, remember to wipe baby’s gums with a clean washcloth. When your baby’s teeth emerge, brush them twice daily. This will keep your baby’s teeth from decay and build great habits at the same time!

Breastfeeding May Help Your Baby’s Bite

Studies as recent as 2015 and 2017 show that babies who were exclusively breastfed for their first six months were less likely to develop bite issues than babies who were not. These issues included crossbites, overbites, and open bites. Breastfeeding is not a guarantee that your child will not need braces later in life, but it may be helpful in preventing bite issues that braces would correct. Other factors to consider in your child’s bite development are genetics, pacifier usage, thumb sucking, and affect alignment.

Breastfeeding while your child has teeth is entirely a matter of comfort for both you and baby. You do not have to wean when your child’s teeth erupt unless you wish to do so. If your child is biting during feedings, you can try talking to other moms or a lactation expert to see what you can do. From an oral health standpoint, there is no reason why you cannot continue breastfeeding if you wish.

Other Considerations

As a busy mom, make sure you take time to take care of your oral health. We know how overwhelming motherhood can be, but taking care of your oral health means you are better able to take care of your entire family. Be sure to brush regularly, attend regular cleanings, and inform your dentist about your decision to breastfeed in case you need any medications.

Breastfeeding is highly recommended by several health organizations. It comes with some benefits for a lifetime of health. Nevertheless, breastfeeding is a very personal experience that you know best. Make your decision based on what will work for the two of you. Meanwhile, keep smiling!