Breastfeeding is a constant subject of intrigue and debate and draws a lot of media attention. But such a vast amount of information can make it difficult to be clear about the benefits and potential downsides of breastfeeding.
How does breastfeeding affect oral health?
Long-term bottle-feeding is a common cause of tooth decay in young children, especially if the bottle contains sugary liquids or the child uses a bottle for a prolonged period of time. Dentists often advise against bottle-feeding past the age of 12 months and advise parents to swap their child’s bottle for a feeding cup.
Research has revealed that breast milk is not as cariogenic as cow’s milk, which means it is less likely to cause cavities. However, experts warn that nursing on demand can increase the risk of cavities due to the frequency of feeding.
A review by the United States Breastfeeding Committee found that children who were breastfed and those who were bottle-fed can develop cavities, and that the role of parents in oral hygiene education and early dental care should not be underestimated. The review was ordered after dentists presented conflicting advice surrounding the duration of breastfeeding: some recommended prolonged breastfeeding, while others advise breastfeeding for no longer than 6 months to promote good oral health.
The role of the parent
Parents play an important role in their child’s oral health and this starts before they are even born. Studies show that poor oral health in pregnant women can cause complications during labour and childbirth and even cause still birth, so all pregnant women are advised to attend regular dental checks before and after their baby is born. Parents are also advised to take care of their child’s teeth and gums from a very early age. Using a soft brush to clean the gums and teeth as they start to erupt will help to keep decay at bay.
Benefits and downsides of breastfeeding
Many women weigh up the pros and cons of breastfeeding during their pregnancy, consulting their midwife or doctor, asking friends and relatives who have had children and looking for advice in books and online. However, there are conflicting ideas and this can make the decision even more challenging. There is a great deal of evidence to support the benefits of breastfeeding, but there are also concerns that have been raised. Many women feel under pressure to breastfeed because it is the natural way of nourishing a newborn baby, but in some cases breastfeeding is just not possible and women should never feel forced into it.
Key benefits of breastfeeding include bonding with the child, cognitive development, development of the immune system, reduced risk of bowel problems and eczema, and a lower risk of infections.
It is rare for there to be clinical reasons not to breastfeed, although this may be the case if you HIV.
Talking to a dentist like those from http://www.liverpoolimplants.co.uk/ will go a long way to helping both children and parents know how best to main good dental health.