Many mothers, and just as many case studies, can give you a hundred reasons why breastfeeding your newborn is positively beneficial. It is common knowledge that breast milk has many beneficial nutrients and antibodies for your baby. But, did you know that breastfeeding does wonders for a child’s dental health too? There are many incredible health benefits found in breast milk, but it often goes unmentioned how much breastfeeding affects the growth of a newborn’s teeth and jaw.
Stopping Dental Problems Before They Begin
Various types of misalignment in teeth and the jaw are common among children and adults alike. Misalignments and many other dental problems can be traced back to the formation of the jaw and oral cavities early in life, but studies show that many are preventable through breastfeeding! Babies who are breastfed are much less likely to acquire common and/or serious misalignment issues later in life. Surprisingly, this only barely scratches the surface of the dental benefits of breastfeeding!
Many mothers both breastfeed their babies and use bottles filled with breast milk, which affects the oral cavity differently. Moreover, allowing your child to use a pacifier often or for many years can have adverse affects on the oral cavity and even affect speech capabilities early in life. The over-use of pacifiers and thumb/finger sucking can work against the oral positives of physically breastfeeding. Breastfeeding, for any given amount of time, is indeed beneficial. Statistics show that exclusively breastfeeding in the first six months to the first year of your child’s life, if possible, is the best choice for proper dental health.
Side note: pacifiers do not need to be completely banned from your baby’s early life! SIDS is less common in babies that are sucking when sleeping.
Benefits For Baby Teeth
Simply put, the act of breastfeeding for a longer span of your child’s life significantly aids in facial muscle development. To breastfeed, babies have to work both the jaw and tongue in a certain way in order to pull milk and, over time, this affects the manner in which a child’s jaw develops. While bottle-feeding, an infant’s jaw muscles don’t have to work as hard, causing less structured growth in their jaw and oral cavity. Thus, preventing the structured growth provided from breastfeeding. In addition, babies have to breathe through the nose when breastfeeding, creating a lesser chance of developing bad habits, such as mouth breathing. In this respect, nasal breathing can lead to better airways, which can help your child from needing to use a pacifier as frequently.
Lastly, the act of breastfeeding encourages a suitable palate structure. High palates and narrow arches are inapt and found alternatively in bottle and pacifier users.
Even verbal communication is better on account of a well-positioned set of teeth. Breast milk has a chemical barrier that reduces attack of disease and assists in repair. Tooth decay is more common when sleeping because saliva production slows down. Amazingly, breastfeeding helps your child’s mouth to produce more saliva. On the other hand, be cautious not to breastfeed once your child is asleep or is falling asleep. Any food in the mouth or drink prior to sleep can lead to tooth decay.
If anything, as a parent, you may not have to invest in braces for your child’s orthodontic problems if you breastfeed and limit finger sucking or pacifier use. While some common orthodontic problems are in fact genetic, breastfeeding is still exceptionally beneficial for curbing these impending issues.
Dr. John King is a Pediatric Dentist at Snodgrass-King Dental Associates. Snodgrass-King is a multi-specialty practice, offering you a unique dental experience. From birth through adulthood, they have specialists to care for your every dental need. The benefit is continuity of care through all phases of your life giving you a smile to build a future on.