How you feed your baby is your choice, but does how you choose to feed your baby affect his or her dental health as he or she gets older Let’s take a look.
Recently, more research seems to have focused on breast feeding than bottle feeding.
Breast feeding’s role in dental cavities is unknown. Several studies show breast feeding leads to a fewer cavities; several show more cavities develop. The majority of experts seem to feel that breast feeding seems to delay or prevent developing early childhood dental cavities. But nursing on demand, especially at night, may lead to more cavities, similar to babies having a bottle at night. (See the bottle feeding section for more information).
Breast feeding your child for less than 6 months means your child may be more likely to suck on pacifiers. This may be why we see that children breast fed or less than 6 months have a higher chance of tooth arrangements that can require braces to fix.
There does seem to be a significant loss of calcium and phosphate in breast milk after 1 year, and the number of cavities does seem to go up for children breast fed for 18 months or longer. For this reason, weaning is suggested at age 1 year.
Children put to bed with a bottle that contains milk, juice, or any beverage other than water are more likely to develop baby bottle tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay are cavities over many baby teeth, but especially the front teeth. This happens because the sugar in the beverage pools around the front teeth when the child falls asleep with the bottle in his or her mouth.
Children bottle fed for more than 18 months had a more likely chance of developing an upper jaw that is positioned more forward compared to the lower jaw (buck tooth appearance).
So there seem to be dental advantages and dental disadvantages to each type of feeding for young children. And as an aside, exposure to tobacco smoke early in life seems to increase the likelihood of cavities as well.
We hope this information provides information to help you with your decision on how to feed your child for his or her best dental health later in life.
Note: This advice is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your health care professionals.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who treats both adults and children in her dental practice located at:
1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 44053