Breastfeeding is a hot topic amongst moms these days. We aren’t going to touch which is best for your baby, breast or bottle, as that is between a mom, her baby, and the baby’s pediatrician. However, we do want to clear up any misnomers that may be out there regarding breastfeeding and oral health.
Many believe that a baby’s new teeth only need to be cleaned and cared for if the baby is bottle fed, as the formula is thicker than breastmilk (hence why babies sleep through the night sooner with formula than breastmilk). This is, of course, absolutely not true. Breastmilk still contains some lactic acid, which can erode teeth enamel if not cleaned from the baby’s teeth.
The Canadian Dental Association even offered the following statement this past summer:
The Canadian Dental Association supports breastfeeding as it provides nutritional benefits to the infant and is recognized as an effective preventive health measure.
In the absence of daily oral hygiene care, breastfeeding is one of the many risk factors that may contribute to the development of dental caries. Therefore, it is vital that mouth cleaning or tooth brushing be part of the daily routine for all infants, including those who are breastfed.
CDA Board of Directors – Approved June 2013
As soon as those baby teeth come in, it is time to introduce your baby to a finger toothbrush, baby toothpaste, and the new tradition of brushing teeth and gums at least twice a day. It does not matter if your baby is teething as early as two months (which is possible) and you haven’t introduced your baby to solid foods just yet.
Of course, once you do introduce your baby to solid foods, the teeth brushing ritual becomes even more crucial.
Don’t forget, never leave a bottle of breastmilk, cow’s milk, formula, or juice in with your baby in a crib to suck on during the night. Such practice will invite tooth decay into your baby’s life at a very early age.