Breastfeeding is a very intimate way to bond with your baby, and breastmilk can be a vital source of nutrition for your infant. But breastfeeding can impact your baby’s dental health, so there are some crucial things to know, such as proper oral hygiene for infants, babies and tooth decay, and how breastfeeding can benefit your baby’s mouth and teeth.
Breastfeeding and Tooth Decay
Some parents worry that breastfeeding might cause tooth decay in the same way a baby can get bottle mouth. However, research doesn’t support this supposition. Bottle mouth is tooth decay caused by the sugar in formula, milk, and other liquids, and it commonly happens when parents put their babies to bed with a bottle. However, breastmilk doesn’t enter the mouth or pool in the mouth the same way as liquid from a bottle, so it’s safe to breastfeed during the day and at night without worrying that your baby will develop cavities.
However, All Babies Can Still Get Cavities
As mentioned, babies who are given bottles at night are especially prone to cavities, so it is possible for babies to suffer from tooth decay. Moreover, some babies are genetically predisposed to getting cavities, even if they’re breastfed exclusively. However, you can reduce the chances of tooth decay by breastfeeding instead of bottle feeding, and by practicing good oral hygiene habits from an early age.
Oral Hygiene Tips for Babies
Within a few days of giving birth, you can start wiping your baby’s gums after each feeding with a damp cloth to remove excess milk or formula to prevent bacteria from building up in the mouth. As soon as your baby’s teeth begin to erupt, you can start brushing them twice daily with a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste formulated for children.
Breastfeeding May Help with the Alignment of Your Baby’s Teeth
Babies who are breastfed for a minimum of six months are much less likely to develop malocclusion (which is a fancy name for misaligned or crooked teeth), overbites, and other alignment problems, and this means your child will be less likely to need braces.
To Prevent Tooth Decay, Avoid Sharing Saliva with Your Baby
The human mouth is full of bacteria, some of which are more aggressive than others when it comes to causing tooth decay. If these bacteria are present in your mouth, then you risk transferring them to your baby if you share saliva, and this could lead to tooth decay in your child. Here are some common ways that parents and children share saliva without thinking:
- Sharing spoons or utensils
- Partially chewing food and then feeding it to your baby
- Holding a pacifier in your mouth
- Wet kisses
Breastfeeding has many benefits for babies, including positive effects on their dental health. However, it is still possible for babies to get cavities, so it’s important to start with a good oral hygiene routine right away. Part of this involves regular trips to see your Nashua dentists, which should start when your baby is between six months and a year old or after the first tooth erupts.