August is National Breastfeeding Month and serves to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is good for both mom and baby, produces milk that can be easier for your child to digest, and will save money. But breastfeeding is a personal choice made between moms and dads, and it may not be right for everyone. If you’re deciding whether or not to breastfeed, you’re probably reading up on the pros and cons in order to make the best choice for your family. Our pediatric dental office in Long Island would like to help by giving you some information about how breastfeeding can affect your baby’s oral health.
The way our teeth develop begins very early in life, and many things such as pacifiers or bottles can disrupt the natural shape of a bite. Breastfeeding may reduce this and help babies develop a better, more aligned bite. In fact, several studies show that babies who were breastfed for the first six months of their lives had a lower occurrence of alignment concerns including overbites and crossbites than babies who never breastfed or did so for less than six months. However, it’s important to note that breastfeeding may not eliminate all chances for bite concerns as genetics and thumbsucking can also affect bite development.
Baby bottle decay is a very real concern for your Long Island pediatric dentist. Baby bottle decay typically happens due to exposure to too much sugar, and more specifically, sugary drinks including milk, formula, or juice. It often occurs when anything other than water is given to a child at bedtime when he will be exposed to the sugars for a prolonged period of time. Breastfeeding babies have a lower chance of developing baby bottle decay since there isn’t an opportunity for baby to nurse a bottle all night.
Even though breastfeeding can reduce the likelihood of baby bottle decay, it’s important to know that cavities can still happen. Since breastmilk does contain sugar, your child’s teeth are still being exposed, just in smaller doses. To help keep cavities away, whether you breastfeed or not, remember to gently rub a damp washcloth over your child’s gums to help remove some sugars that may get left behind.
Whether you decide that breastfeeding is the right choice for you or not, it’s important to always keep an eye on your baby’s oral health and see a pediatric dentist regularly. Appointments every six months will help monitor tooth eruption, bite development, as well as give your dental team a chance to catch any signs of decay early.
If it’s time for your baby’s first dental appointment, you’re in between dentists, or it’s been awhile since your child has seen one, we welcome you to call our Long Island pediatric dental office to schedule an appointment. Our team has years of experience caring for even the littlest smiles and can keep kids calm and relaxed at every visit. Schedule an appointment with us today!