You may have heard that breastfeeding can increase the risk of tooth decay or cavities in infants. Is there really any truth to this claim? If so, what can you do to avoid the risks that breastfeeding poses to your child’s tooth development? This short guide will explain everything you need to know.
Breastfeeding and Tooth Decay
The relationship between breastfeeding and dental health in infants is not fully understood yet. Studies are still being done, and some of the results of previous studies seem to contradict each other. There have been studies that seem to suggest that breastfeeding for longer than the child’s first year of life can more than double the chances of developing a cavity. There have also been studies that suggest breastfeeding extensively for the first six months of an infant’s life can have great dental health benefits. The most common scientific belief right now is that breastfeeding for more than one year does not directly cause tooth decay, but rather this practice disproportionally comes along with other habits that do.
Caring For Your Infant’s Dental Health
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed for one year, and longer if both the mother and child want to. Babies’ teeth are especially susceptible to damage, so you need to be very careful with the sugar content of everything you give your child.
Another aspect is that those who breastfeed extensively often do so at night when it is harder to take the correct precautions to protect their little teeth. You should always use a moist cloth to wipe a baby’s gums after they eat. This includes after breastfeeding, as breast milk has sugar in it. If you breastfeed late at night, it may be easier to ignore this need, but you should be vigilant about it. Additionally, you should gently brush your infant’s teeth twice a day and make sure to visit a dentist. Call Family Dentist Apex, NC for more details and to schedule an appointment.
Whether or not breastfeeding causes tooth decay directly or simply correlates with other bad dental health practices is yet to be seen. But in the meantime, it is vital that you take eliminate every bad habit and take on good dental health practices. Doing so will ensure your baby has strong teeth for his or her entire life, regardless of how often you want to nurse your child. There are strong benefits to nurse, both related and unrelated to your baby’s teeth.
Thank you to Alliance Dentistry for their input into dental care and how breastfeeding affects babies’ teeth.