We all know the advantages of breastfeeding vs bottle feeding in terms of nutrition, immunity, etc. Breast milk has several systemic and immunological advantages over proprietary formulas – breast milk is rich in IgA, IgG, IgM antibodies, it contains various cellular elements like lymphoid cells, plasma cells, various growth factors, lysozymes, etc. which play a significant role in building immunity at an early age.
But today as a dentist I want to focus on some facts related to dentistry in the context of breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
Breastfeeding stimulates the muscles around the oral cavity of a baby, which helps in the normal growth of teeth and jaws. Breastfeeding allows milk flow on-demand, thus making the muscles around the tongue and teeth to work more during the sucking process so they are exercised. This encourages the development of well-formed jaws and healthy teeth.
During bottle feeding, the muscles around the mouth don’t have to work very hard. Hence, the normal development of teeth and jaws may get affected. The milk flows continuously from the bottle, so the muscles don’t get any strenuous exercise.
Thus, feeding practices also play an important role in the oral growth of the baby at an early age.
Many parents are not aware of the fact that oral hygiene practices are essential at an early age. These practices include:
- The proper cleaning of gum pads within the first week of the baby’s birth
- Parents should bring their child for the first dental visit by the time the baby is 6 months of age
- The child should not be put to bed with the bottle or the breast at night. It is also important to clean the gums (and later, teeth) with a cloth or brush after the last meal before sleep.
Remember that oral health is an integral part of the total health of the child.
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