Babies only feed on milk for the first six months of life and sometimes longer, and it is the parent’s choice to give breast milk or powdered formula to an infant. It’s a known fact that infant formula contains sugar which can contribute to early dental decay, but how about breastfed babies? Should parents have the same concern with breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding and Oral Health
Breastfeeding is a natural method of providing nutrition for infants and growing children, and breast milk is the perfect substance to quench a baby’s thirst and hunger. Breast milk is composed of many bioactive components such as enzymes, proteins, lipids, and immune system boosters which strengthen the baby’s body.
Apart from these, breastmilk also contains various nutrients such as calcium, potassium, sodium, carbohydrates, and fats which are all necessary for proper growth and development. However, although breastmilk does not have regular sugar (glucose) in it, it does have similar components such as carbohydrates.
The carbohydrates found in breastmilk is not directly linked to oral decay. However, the act of suckling actually promotes bacterial growth in the mouth, regardless if the infant is feeding on breast milk or powdered formula. This is because the mouth comes in contact with the breast as well as other substances, like when a baby likes to mouth toys and other household items. When a baby feeds at night, the bacteria in the mouth can easily multiply because of the constant presence of milk in the mouth which serves as the food of the bacteria.
What you can do is minimize night feeding and make sure you clean your baby’s mouth properly using a finger toothbrush. Removing milk from the teeth and tongue can reduce the growth of bacteria and prevent tooth decay in growing infants.
Importance of Dental Care for Babies
As soon as the first tooth erupts, a baby should be seen by a pediatric dentist. This is around 6-9 months of age, but some babies may get their first tooth sooner or later than this period. The reason why babies need dental care is because they do not get enough fluoride from breast milk or solid foods. Fluoride is one of the most essential nutrients that strengthen the teeth and protect it from cavity-causing bacteria. Through a dental professional, an infant will be able to receive fluoride for dental protection.
Pediatric Dentistry at Stetson Hills Dental Clinic
We at Stetson Hills Dental Clinic provide comfortable and friendly pediatric dental care to young patients of all ages, including infants. If your baby has erupted his or her first tooth, it’s the perfect time to visit our clinic and let our senior dentist Dr. Gary Moore to take a look at your baby’s mouth. Early fluoridation also helps in strengthening the child’s teeth because despite the lack of fluoride in the diet, the child is able to receive topical fluoride from our dental clinic.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with us, you can call us at (719) 425-2991 and fill out our new patient form online. By bringing your baby to our dental clinic at an early age, your child will be able to receive ample dental care and prevent any problems such as tooth decay and malocclusion from worsening. Children with beautiful teeth grow up to have healthy permanent teeth in their adulthood, so it’s an investment that will surely be worth it.