If you’re a new parent, you probably have quite a few questions about your baby’s health. There’s a reason that you’ll spend most of your first year with a baby visiting the pediatrician!
But often, the dental health of children is not a top priority for new parents. You may not know much about how breastfeeding, formula, or other factors affect the health of your child’s quickly-growing baby teeth.
Breast Milk and Breast Feeding Alone Do not Cause Cavities
A common misconception that some new parents have is that breastfeeding can cause cavities in newborns and infants because there is sugar in breast milk. This is not the case. In several studies, children who were exclusively breastfed were found to have strong teeth, free of enamel decay.
A 1999 study by Erickson, for example, immersed teeth into various solutions including water, breast milk, a breast milk-sugar solution, and others. The rates of decay of these teeth were then compared.
Breast milk was found to be nearly identical to water in this study and did not cause tooth decay. In fact, in a follow-up study, it was found that breast milk actually made the teeth healthier! Almost all cavities in infants are caused because of supplemental foods, sugars and other substances besides breast milk.
The Antibodies in Breast Milk Counteract the Effects of Tooth Decay
Breast milk helps fight back against bacteria in the mouth, and this is why it can counteract the effects of tooth decay. A study by the Irish dentist Harry Torney found that, under normal circumstances, the natural antibiotic effect of antibodies was enough to keep tooth decay in check among children with healthy teeth.
However, if children had genetic defects in their teeth, or had soft enamel, it was possible for decay to take root. Because of this, it is possible for some breastfed children to develop cavities. However, this can be avoided by regularly wiping down the gums and teeth post-feeding, and beginning to brush the teeth when they erupt, using baby toothpaste and a baby toothbrush.
Breastfeeding Is Associated With a Better Bite Structure
Breastfeeding may actually be better for your child’s mouth than formula or bottle-feeding. Studies in both Pediatrics and the Journal of the American Dental Association found that infants who were exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months of their lives were much less likely to suffer from bite issues such as open bites, overbites and cross-bites later on in life.
Have more questions about breastfeeding? Come see Dr. Brett Blacher today!
Dr. Brett Blacher is an experienced general dentist offering pediatric dentistry in Lombard. If you have further questions about your infant’s oral health, or if it’s time to bring them in for their first check-up, contact us today!
Give us a call at (630) 916-0701 to schedule your appointment, or bring your little one into our office at 450 E. 22nd St., Ste 201 Lombard, IL 60148. We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you learn more about your child’s oral health!