It’s been years that new moms are always instructed to breastfeed their babies until a defined time. Yes, it’s because the nutrients available in breast milk cater to the baby’s immune health and overall nourishment. But, another major concern that has seen the light of day is related to the oral health of the baby.
The tussle is between the breast milk and the bottle milk. Some do substitute bottle milk for breast milk, but, we cannot equalize the nutrition and consequences exhibited by these foods. Breast milk has been superior so far and its consequences with respect to oral health portray fewer damages than bottle milk.
Doctors at the American Academy of Pediatrics often encounter new moms asking, “Can I stop feeding my baby after he/she starts teething?” Well, every child is different and every mother is different. We cannot always compare the instances and put a hard stop, however, several doctors suggest that one should stop breastfeeding when she thinks is the best time. Another, recommendation that frequently pops up is that the parents should get the baby’s oral exam done at regular intervals to understand the case better.
Breastfeed vs. Bottle Feed- Comparing the Oral Issues
Researchers have been debating the topic and so far we have a few studies that prove the supremacy of breast milk. Bottle Feeding for babies is often recommended when the baby is reluctant in taking the breastfeed or if some other issue persists.
Let’s consider the effects of both the cases on the oral health of the baby:
- Teeth Alignment Issues- According to a study published by the Journal of the American Dental Association, babies who were breastfed for the initial 6 months after their birth are less likely to have alignment issues in their teeth. On the contrary, the babies who were breastfed for less than 6 months usually developed overbites, cross bites & open bites.
- Tooth Decay- Unless the baby is actively nursing, he/she has fewer chances of tooth decay. In the case of bottle feeding, milk continuously flows in the mouth at the time of every feed and this elevates the chances of tooth decay.
- Tooth Enamel Issues- Breast milk contains proteins that act as a protection layer on the layer of the tooth. While this is not the case with bottle milk.
So, Breastfeeding is Safe??? Not Really!!!
While doctors recommend giving second preference to bottle feeding, one cannot stay assured with breastfeeding. The reason is breast milk also contains sugar which can harm baby’s teeth over the course of time. Precautions in both cases are a mandate and should not be ignored.
Breastfeeding Tips to Maintain Oral Hygiene in Newborn Babies
- Wipe your baby’s gums at least once in a day with a clean finger even before the teeth start erupting.
- When your baby starts teething, start brushing even the single tooth that has erupted with a soft bristled brush twice a day.
- Remove your baby from breast once he/she has stopped feeding.
- Take your baby to the doctor for oral assessment every 6 months.
Bottle Feeding Tips to Maintain Oral Hygiene in Newborn Babies
If your baby is reluctant is taking breastfeed, then you can rescue the situation by feeding him/her through a bottle. But, make sure you remove the bottle while he/she is asleep. It is advisable to seek doctor’s assistance in these cases.
Follow the below tips to maintain oral hygiene of your infant while bottle feeding:
- Never put your child to bottle feed while he/she is sleeping. Inactivity may cause the milk to stay in his/her mouth for the
- Periodically clean the gums of your child with a clean finger or baby cloth.
- After the teeth start erupting, brush them twice a day with a soft bristled brush.
- Get your baby habitual to drink milk with a cup.
The above information is intended to create awareness about oral hygiene in infants. It is always recommended to seek pediatrician’s advice before following any suggestive methods. Infant oral hygiene is a practice that delivers lifelong benefits to the child. It’s better to stay prevented than to cure the conditions.