Breastfeeding Vs. Formula – Which Is Better For My Child's Teeth?

The choice to breastfeed or to bottle feed your baby is one of the first (and most personal) choices you’ll make as a new mother. Wondering which type of feeding is better for your child’s teeth? In this blog from Big Picture Pediatric Dentistry, we’ll discuss everything you need to know. 

Breastfeeding Is Associated With A Lower Risk Of Tooth Decay

Overall, breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of tooth decay. There are a few reasons for this. First, breastmilk does not “pool” in a child’s mouth in the same way that liquid from a bottle can pool in their mouth. Breastmilk only flows when the child is actively suckling, which helps decrease their teeth’s exposure to the sugars contained in breastmilk.

In addition, milk from the breast tends to enter the baby’s mouth behind the front teeth. This, along with the fact that the baby must also actively swallow frequently while sucking, is thought to decrease the overall risk of tooth decay quite a bit. 

So if you’re already thinking about breastfeeding your child, it does appear that breastfeeding may have some additional benefits for your baby’s oral health as they grow and develop throughout their first months and years of life.  

Bottle Feeding Won’t Harm Your Child’s Teeth If You Take Proper Precautions

So, is bottle feeding with formula worse for your child’s mouth than breastfeeding? The answer is “no,” as long as you follow a few basic precautions when feeding your child with a bottle. 

  • Don’t put your child to bed with a bottle – This is the biggest mistake new parents make. You should absolutely never put your child to bed with a bottle, particularly one filled with formula, milk, or juice.

    If your child sleeps with a bottle and drinks from it before falling asleep, their teeth will be subjected to prolonged exposure to the sugars in the formula, milk, or juice, which can cause tooth decay.

  • Clean their teeth and gums after feeding – This is important to do whether you bottle feed or breastfeed. Once your child is done feeding, wipe their gums with a clean piece of damp gauze. If they have any teeth, you should use a baby toothbrush and a grain-of-rice-sized blob of toothpaste to clean their teeth. Proper cleaning of the teeth and gums after feeding is the best way to eliminate the risk of cavities.

  • See a dentist – No matter how you feed your child, you should schedule their first dental appointment by the age of 1 or whenever their first tooth comes out, according to the American Association of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD).

Need More Information? Ready For Your Little One’s First Appointment? Get In Touch! 

At Big Picture Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Jason Brock is an expert in treating little smiles. If you’re a new parent and have questions about your baby’s oral health, or you’re ready to bring them in for their first dentist appointment, don’t wait. Contact us online or give us a call at (281) 461-7470 to get the dental care your child needs in Houston right away. 

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