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3 Facts About Nursing That Can Benefit Your Child’s Oral Health

May 6, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — brushforkids @ 1:15 pm
a mother nursing her baby while sitting in a rocking chair

Do you have a baby at home? Are you choosing to breastfeed at this time? You may not realize it, but the decision to nurse your baby offers great benefits to their oral health. Although not all mothers opt to take this road when welcoming a child into the world, there are interesting facts that come with feeding your child naturally. In this article, your child’s pediatric dentist will discuss the link between nursing and oral health and the impact it can have on the future of their smile.

Reduced Risk for Bite Misalignment

This is not to say that a breastfed child will avoid the possibility of wearing braces when they are older. If you give your little one a pacifier, allow them to suck their thumb as a toddler, or have a genetic predisposition, there is a chance their bite could be misaligned as they grow older. However, two studies published in the Journal of the American Dental Association explain that the chances of an overbite, open bite, or crossbite were much less in infants who were breastfed for the first six months of life. In the 2015 study, researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia studied more than 1,300 children for 5 years and tracked how they breastfed at different stages in the first two years of life. They also looked at how often a pacifier was used during these times. It was discovered once the children reached the age of 5 that if they were breastfed for at least 6 months or more, the potential for an overbite dropped by 44% and misalignment dropped by 72%.

Lower Chance of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you can significantly reduce their risk of baby bottle tooth decay. When giving a child a bottle when they go to bed that contains formula, milk, fruit juice, or any other sugary substance, the contents can remain on their teeth for prolonged periods of time. As a result, harmful bacteria and acids can begin to eat away at their tooth enamel, causing cavities to form early on. By avoiding the bottle for as long as possible or choosing to fill it with water (once at an appropriate age), you can reduce their risk and keep their teeth healthier, longer.

Your Child Can Still Get Cavities

Although the risk of tooth decay lowers when choosing to breastfeed, it doesn’t mean your child is immune to possible cavities. Breast milk still contains sugar and when nursing your child at night or “on-demand,” it can increase their risk for cavities if the remnants is allowed to remain on their teeth. The key aspect to remember when nursing your child is to wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth after every feeding. Once their first tooth erupts, begin using a finger brush or soft-bristled toothbrush to gently clean their teeth each time they finish nursing. It is best to use a smear of fluoride toothpaste, which is no larger than the size of a grain of rice.

As you navigate this time in your baby’s life, remember it is important to take care of yourself as well. Practicing good oral hygiene habits will help to improve your oral health and, in turn, reduce your risk of infection and a weakened immune system. If you require any type of oral procedure, make sure to check with your physician or child’s pediatric dentist to make sure any medications or antibiotics are safe for your nursing baby.

About the Author
At Brush Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Mira Albert leads a team of pediatric dentists who make it possible for little ones to achieve healthier smiles. Offering a fun and exciting environment filled with kid-friendly amenities, we believe in helping children become enthusiastic about oral hygiene. Treating patients of all ages, we see infants as young as six months old. Whether they are nursing or using a bottle, we can guide parents in a way that encourages good nutritional habits at home as well as offer valuable insight into the benefits of breastfeeding and how it impacts a child’s smile. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to keep your little one’s teeth and gums on the right track, contact us at (630) 504-2223.

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