How can breastfeeding help protect your baby’s teeth?
Breastmilk gives your baby the best start for a healthy life, as it contains all the nutrients they need for the first 6 months. Breastmilk promotes optimal growth and development and protects your baby against infections and diseases.
Breastfeeding is a safe and convenient way to feed your baby. It also helps reduce the risk of tooth decay.
- When a baby breastfeeds, they draw the nipple into the back of their mouth and the milk comes out into their throat, causing them to swallow. Because the milk does not settle around the baby’s teeth, the teeth are protected.
- Unlike other liquids, such as formula, fruit juice, cordial and soft drink, breastmilk is low in sugar. As sugar is one of the main factors that cause tooth decay, breastfed babies are at reduced risk.
- Breastmilk contains antibodies that can prevent the growth of Streptococcus Mutans, the bacteria that is commonly associated with tooth decay.
- Breastfeeding encourages babies to use their jaw and tongue muscles in a way that supports the development of a proper bite and the growth of the jawbone.
Infant formula also provides essential nutrients for your child’s growth and development.
If you are bottle feeding, it is important to know that prolonged feeding from a bottle of milk or other sugary liquid can cause tooth decay.
To prevent tooth decay:
- Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or other sugary liquid.
- Take the bottle away as soon as your baby has finished feeding.
- Swap the bottle for a sippy cup by the age of one.
Once your baby's teeth start to come through, it is important to:
- Use a clean cloth or a small, soft toothbrush to clean the gums and teeth morning and night.
- As your child gets older, brush twice a day - in the morning and before bed at night.
- From 0 - 17 months, do not use toothpaste. Start using a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride from 18 months - 5 years.
- Limit sugary foods and drinks. Choose healthy snacks like fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy foods.
- Tap water is the healthiest drink for your child’s teeth.
First dental visits are recommended from 12 – 18 months.
To request an appointment please click here.