Several scientific studies show that children who were breastfed showed oral and overall health benefits. The British Dental Journal states that dentists are now being advised to read about the positive oral health benefits of breastfeeding in the first year, which includes a decreased risk of dental caries (tooth decay).1
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-019-0056-6?WT.ec_id=BDJ-201902&sap-outbound-id=6244D3DAE835D8033012EDED29AC6E3E71C7818E Keep in mind, even though the studies show that breastfeeding up to 12 months has benefits, the benefits obviously last AFTER the child is breastfeeding. (Most studies were done on children up to 5 years of age).
Oral Health Benefits
Breastfeeding provides compelling oral health advantages
• A breastfed child is significantly less likely to suffer from tooth decay than a child who is artificially fed.
• Breastfeeding promotes jaw and tooth development.
• A breastfed child is less likely to suffer from crooked teeth.
• A breastfed baby is less likely to suffer from discoloration of teeth from excess fluoride.
There are naysayers out there — and some dentists too — who believe that breast milk actually promotes tooth decay. To counter this argument with the latest scientific thinking, Public Health England updated their guidance to dentists about breastfeeding and dental health to emphasize that “current evidence suggests that breastfeeding up to 12 months of age is associated with a decreased risk of tooth decay”.
And Dr. Brian Palmer DDS in “Infant Dental Decay: Is it related to Breastfeeding?” quotes a well-known anthropologist with this incisive quote: “If breastmilk caused decay – evolution would have selected against it. It would be evolutionary suicide for breastmilk to cause decay.”
Breastfeeding May Build a Better Bite
Several recent studies, one in Pediatrics in 2015 and one in the August 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, found that babies who were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months were less likely to have teeth alignment issues such as open bites, crossbites, and overbites, than those exclusively breast fed for shorter lengths of time or not at all. (If you’ve ever paid for braces for your kids, this is definitely something to consider!)
Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Another benefit of exclusive breastfeeding is a reduced risk of baby bottle tooth decay, the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar. This type of tooth decay often occurs when a baby is put to bed with a bottle – even ones containing formula, milk or fruit juice.
Other Health Reasons to Consider Breastfeeding
There are also health benefits to the breastfeeding mother, including reducing uterine bleeding and hastening the recovery process of giving birth. Multiple studies show that breastfeeding reduces cancers that affect women. One large study shows that it can reduce the risk for breast cancer by more than 4% for each year of breastfeeding. This is believed to relate to suppression of estrogen, which can promote abnormal cell growth. Other studies show it can reduce other cancers like endometrial and ovarian cancers, along with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.2
Healthy for mom, healthy for baby, and totally natural! Additionally, breastfeeding promotes a very healthy, emotional bond between mom and baby, and is even said to help reduce belly fat. This is a true win-win practice.
Do Your Homework
DrTung’s encourages new moms and moms-to-be to research more about the benefits of breastfeeding, and seriously consider this healthy practice for your little one. It’s also a very economical decision, and will give your baby the healthiest start possible. Mom AND baby will have even more reasons to smile!