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Woman breastfeeding with child

New mothers understandably have numerous questions about how to care for their babies. One of the most common is how long they should continue breastfeeding and its effects on their baby.

Research suggests breastfeeding positively influences your child’s jaw development. Breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of misaligned teeth.

Learn more about the effect of breastfeeding on jaw development and when to bring your child for a pediatric dental visit.

What Does Breastfeeding Do for Jaw Development?

A more recent form of orthodontics, called functional jaw orthopedics, uses muscle forces created by using removable appliances to make changes in the jaw and how the bite function develops. Breastfeeding helps to perform these changes naturally.

According to researchers, the forward forces caused by a baby’s sucking action create forward muscular forces that act similarly to Functional Jaw Orthopedics devices.

Most dentists recommend breastfeeding for about six months for optimal jawbone development. Research also suggests that parents should begin a pediatric dental care routine at 12 months old or when their first tooth erupts. This includes regular check-ups with a pediatric dentist and a daily tooth brushing routine.

Is Breastfeeding Good for My Baby’s Teeth?

A malocclusion is when the upper and lower teeth are misaligned or don’t fit together correctly when chewing or biting. Various malocclusions can damage teeth and jaw development, such as overbite, crossbite, and irregular bite.

Studies indicate that babies who are breastfed have significantly less risk of developing malocclusion than children who were not breastfed or were only breastfed for a short time.

Researchers also found that breastfed children are less likely to develop an anterior open bite. An anterior open bite is a malocclusion that happens when the front teeth in the upper and lower dental arch slant forward and do not touch when the jaws are closed completely.

However, many other factors can contribute to dental malocclusions that cannot be reversed by prolonged breastfeeding. These factors may include pacifier use or thumbsucking and a family history of poor dental alignment.

Breastfeeding may also help prevent dental cavities. Tooth decay occurs with prolonged exposure to high-sugar substances like milk. Bacteria naturally occurring in your child’s mouth feed on the sugars and produce acid as a by-product that wears down the tooth enamel.

Formula-fed babies or infants fed juice or cow’s milk from a bottle have higher sugar exposure rates because bottles drip even when the infant isn’t sucking. When breastfeeding, the baby needs to swallow the breast milk before it can suck again, reducing the time the milk is in the mouth.

Breast milk also contains high levels of beneficial bacteria, promoting better gut health and lessening the effect of harmful Streptococcus mutans bacteria that cause cavities.

However, because breastmilk is also high in lactose, it is important to wipe your baby’s gums and any erupted teeth with a clean damp washcloth after feeding to reduce the risk of decay.

Pediatric Dental at Steger Smiles Family Dentistry

Finding a pediatric dentist is easy when you choose Steger Smiles Family Dentistry. We believe that a lifetime of excellent oral hygiene starts when you’re young.

The caring professionals at Steger Smiles Dentistry can provide a calming dental experience for your child and can provide advice on implementing a pediatric dental care routine to help your kids form positive oral health habits. Contact us today at (708) 754-8090 to book your child’s dental appointment.

Be proud of your smile.