Guest post by Jennifer Ali
It is incredible to think that the first few months of your baby’s life can be so influential when it comes to their future oral health.
A 2018 study by Queensland University of Technology researchers found, for instance, that a newborn baby’s saliva combines with breastmilk to release antibacterial compounds like hydrogen peroxide. These compounds help determine the microbiota (bacterial communities) that live in babies’ mouths, boosting innate immunity.
The results showed that breastmilk, when combined with the newborn’s saliva, inhibits the growth of microorganisms immediately and for up to 24 hours. This was the case for both harmful microorganisms and those which were normally in a baby’s mouth.
The study is just one of many that show that breastfeeding can help promote better oral health in babies.
Breastfeeding vs Tooth Misalignment
Between 25% and 50% of kids need orthodontics at some point in their lives. Usually, a child’s first visit to the orthodontist is undertaken between the ages of seven and 10.
It may seem a bit early, but it is important for the orthodontist to have a look at your child’s teeth and jaw to determine if they are likely to have issues as adults. Going early to a professional can result in fewer orthodontic treatments in the future.
However, the prevention of the need for braces or retainers can start as soon as your child is born. Studies published in the journals Paediatrics and the Journal of the American Dental Association have shown that infants who were exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives were much less likely to have bite problems. The latter can typically include overbites, cross-bites, and open bites. Typically, these issues require orthodontics if they are to be corrected.
Breastfeeding Antibodies vs Tooth Decay
Because breastmilk helps keep bacteria levels down in a baby’s mouth, it can help prevent tooth decay.
Recent published in The British Dental Journal counters past advice that warned against breastfeeding for over six months (before breastmilk contains natural sugar).
In fact, more recent research has shown that children who are breastfed have fewer decayed baby/milk teeth than children who are not breastfed. The mechanism of breastfeeding itself can protect a baby against cavities.
This is because the milk goes to the rear of the oral cavity. It does not pool around the front teeth, as happens with bottle-fed babies. One study found that there was, indeed, no link between long-term, on-demand breastfeeding and tooth decay.
To keep your baby’s mouth extra clean, after feeding, pass a damp cloth along their gum line and teeth to remove any remaining drops of milk.
Breastfeeding Moms Should Ensure They Consume Enough Calcium
The one thing you should make sure of when breastfeeding is that you consume enough calcium. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that moms who breastfeed may risk bone loss around their teeth and gums.
Try to consume various calcium-rich foods, including seeds (including poppy, chia, and sesame), cheese and other dairy foods, sardines and canned salmon, beans, pulses, and almonds.
Breastfeeding can help keep your baby’s teeth healthy. Studies have shown that it can prevent bite problems and decay in baby teeth. Just make sure you consume all the calcium you need to keep your own teeth healthy and strong.