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Breastfeeding and dental health

Breastfeeding and dental health

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Breastfeeding is one of the first (and most personal) decisions a mother makes for her baby. It can help your baby’s body fight infections and reduce health risks like asthma, ear infections, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and obesity in children. Nursing moms may lower their chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer. But did you know breastfeeding can impact the dental health of both baby and mom? Here’s how:

Breastfeeding may help build a better bite

Several recent studies found that babies who were exclusively breastfed for the first six months were less likely to have teeth alignment issues, such as open bites, cross bites, and overbites, than those exclusively breastfed for shorter lengths of time, or not at all.

Still, this doesn’t mean your exclusively breastfed baby won’t need braces some day. Other factors, including genetics, pacifier use, and thumb-sucking, affect alignment. The best thing for mom to do is to bring the child to the dental clinic, so that eruption can be monitored to make sure that baby teeth are coming out at the right time and permanent teeth are coming in at the right time.

You don’t have to wean when your baby gets teeth

It’s a question that new moms normally have: Should I stop breastfeeding when my baby starts teething? The answer is not if you don’t want to. 

It is recommended that you breastfeed for the first year of a baby’s life; the WHO encourages moms to go for two. As it goes with breastfeeding, every child is different, every mother is different. You should stop breastfeeding when you think it’s the best for you and the baby, but not just because the teeth come in.

To be continued next week…

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