Breastfeeding and oral health


Did you know that breastfeeding is assertive health-promoting behavior? Once you know this, you may have several questions going in your head, like, for example, how does your child’s oral health gets benefitted, or is it bad for your baby's teeth? If yes, then when to stop breastfeeding your baby? Breastfeeding is one of a mother's most important decisions for her baby. It helps boosts your baby’s immunity, and reduces health risks like asthma, SIDS, ear infections, and obesity in children.


Why is breastfeeding your baby good?

There is a close connection between breastfeeding and oral health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breast milk is considered to be a healthier choice than formula feed or store-bought milk:

  • More accessible and doesn’t need any preparation
  • Nutritious and has many components that formula feed lacks
  • It boosts your baby’s immunity and protects from many diseases and infections
  • Besides immune cells and antibodies, breast milk also contains digestive enzymes that support the baby's immune and digestive systems development.
  • Enhance children's intelligence;
  • Protect against excess weight gain and diabetes later in life in children; 
  • Decreases the risk of breast cancer in mothers; 
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes and ovarian cancer in mothers.


Now let's understand how breastfeeding can impact the dental health of both baby and mom.

1. Breastfeeding builds better bites

According to studies, babies who were exclusively breastfed for the first six months or more were less likely to have teeth malocclusions such as open bites, crossbites, and overbites, than those who were breastfed for shorter lengths of time or not at all.

It's still possible that your breastfed baby will require braces someday, even if she's exclusively breastfed. Other factors affecting teeth alignment in your babies include genetics, pacifier use, and thumbsucking.  

2. Improve nasal breathing 

Breastfeeding helps the mother’s nipples adapt to the internal shape of the baby's oral cavity, ensuring a proper oral seal that results in good nasal breathing. Thus, reducing the incidence of an open-mouth posture.

3. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Is Reduced by Breastfeeding

Another benefit of breastfeeding includes reduced baby bottle tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when the baby's teeth are exposed frequently to drinks containing sugar. Infants often develop tooth decay when they sleep with bottles -containing formula, milk, or fruit juice. The upper front teeth are usually affected, but other teeth may also be affected.

4. Breastfeeding promotes saliva production.

Breastfeeding prevents dental caries in infants by boosting saliva production. Breastfeeding requires a squeeze-action from the tongue and lip, while bottle-feeding is more passive. Thus, it increases salivary neutralization and reduces the risk of dental caries by 50%.

To prevent your baby from getting cavities, begin wiping your baby’s gums with a clean and wet/moist gauze pad or a cloth daily. When your baby teeth emerge, brush them with fluoride-containing toothpaste. Make sure you take just a tiny amount of toothpaste like the size of a grain of rice. Start doing this when the first tooth emerges.

Managing Risk Both Ways

Although the American Dental Association (ADA) states that breastfeeding can cause dental caries if fed throughout the night after a baby's first tooth has emerged. It is also applicable to bottle-fed babies. 

  1.  Make sure you wipe your baby's gums after your baby's last feeding before bedtime, decreasing the chances of cavities or decay.
  2. You should begin an oral care routine with your child as soon as they start feeding to prepare them for teething by massaging their gums. It will help them chew safely, and a cool, damp gauze can help alleviate their discomfort.

How can dental practitioners advise mothers who are breastfeeding their babies? 

Dental practitioners should encourage breastfeeding as healthy behavior. Some general recommendations are: 

  • Encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months followed by solid foods for 12–24 months or as long as mother and baby desire; 
  • Communicate and develop positive relationships with patients’ midwives and advise them on the importance of maintaining an infant’s oral health.
  • Provide mothers with information about breastfeeding's general and oral health benefits;
  • Encourage mothers to reduce their children's sugar intake;
  • Encourage mothers to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste appropriate for the child's age and oral hygiene.


Several benefits of breastfeeding for children and mothers have been well documented; breastfeeding also protects against dental caries and prevents malocclusions.




About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.

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