The Sweet Smile of Breastfeeding: How Nursing Benefits Dental Health

The Sweet Smile of Breastfeeding: How Nursing Benefits Dental Health 150 150 Kids Dentistry Barrie

While the decision to breastfeed may not be possible or preferred by every mom, those who choose to do so often cite the myriad health benefits it offers their children. These benefits range from a decreased risk of asthma and SIDS to lower chances of obesity and infections. However, an often-overlooked advantage of breastfeeding is its positive impact on dental health.

Baby teeth, despite being temporary, play a crucial role in a child’s development, aiding in the learning process of eating solid foods and proper speech. Let’s delve into how breastfeeding contributes to healthier smiles for your little ones.

Aiding in Teeth Alignment

Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower incidence of dental misalignment issues such as cross-bites, overbites, and open bites. This is attributed to the different sucking mechanisms required in breastfeeding compared to bottle-feeding, which encourages the use of jaw muscles more effectively. However, it’s essential to note that other factors like thumb sucking, the use of pacifiers, and genetics also play significant roles in determining bite alignment.

Nutritional Benefits

Mother’s milk provides the perfect balance of nutrients tailored for infants and toddlers, including essential proteins, fats, vitamins, and antibodies that support healthy growth and immune system development. It adapts to meet the changing nutritional needs of a growing child, ensuring optimal development during the crucial early stages of life. Additionally, breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and reduces the risk of obesity in later childhood, offering a foundation for long-term health and well-being.

Potential for Decay

Despite the benefits, mother’s milk has the potential to fuel dental decay, especially if children are allowed to nurse right before bedtime, or throughout the night. Just like cow’s milk, human milk contains lactose or milk sugar (about 7.5 g/100mL vs 5 g/100mL for cow’s milk) and if that sugar is allowed to sit in the mouth during the night when salivary glands have stopped producing saliva, it will be a potent fuel for cavity causing bacteria to grow and thrive. Decay of baby teeth caused by prolonged exposure to the sugars in milk, juice, or formula while sleeping is a common issue among infants and toddlers.

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