Can Bottle Feeding Have an Impact on a Children’s Oral Health?
Research indicates that malocclusion (bite problems), tooth decay and crowded teeth can all stem from a diet containing too much soft food.
To function properly the human jaw needs a workout as much as the rest of the body.
In order for your baby’s jaw development to progress normally, it’s recommended that they are not bottle-fed beyond 12 months of age.
This is to reduce the amount of plaque-producing sugar coming into contact with their teeth, as well as to strengthen the muscles in their mouth, palette and jaw.
When do you stop bottle feeding?
A common question we get from our parents is when to stop bottle feeding their babies.
While bottle-feeding seems harmless, prolonged use can pose oral health risks for children.
From around the age of 12 months, parents should start weaning their babies off bottles, and get them used to drinking from cups. This is also a great time to introduce a variety of foods to help with baby jaw development.
Milk and juice have natural sugars that can lead to tooth decay and cavities. When babies are nursing for long periods during the day from their bottle, their teeth are coming into contact with these sugars for longer than is good for their teeth..
By introducing a variety of healthy food into the diet of your baby or toddler, you’ll also be helping the muscles in the mouth and jaw to develop – reducing the risk of misalignment issues.
When to introduce finger foods to baby
The types of food your children eat is crucial to proper arch development and jaw growth.
Eating habits are formed early on, so it’s important to introduce a range of foods from about six months of age.
As they get older you can increase the variety to strengthen mouth muscles in toddlers, while providing a healthy and balanced diet.
Here are some of the best foods for your toddler’s jaw, teeth and gums:
- Raw, crunchy vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and celery are great choices for exercising your children’s jaw
- Pecans, brazil nuts and macadamias are known as low-carb nuts. They are full of protein but don’t stimulate acid-producing bacteria that can lead to cavities. These are excellent nuts to give to your kids as a snack.
- Leaner cuts of meat (such as steak) have the benefit of being good sources of phosphorus as well as providing a great workout for developing jaws. Meat can get caught in teeth, so make sure to get your kids to floss after meals.
- Vegan protein alternatives such as tofu, seeds and nuts provide healthy building blocks for your children’s growth. They also encourage chewing which helps develop strong jaws and prevent bite issues in the future.
- Calcium rich foods help to repair and strengthen weakened tooth enamel. Dairy products are a perfect choice, but green vegetables, oily fish and some varieties of beans are also high in calcium.
- Firm crunchy fruits, such as apples and pears are an ideal option for a healthy snack. They stimulate saliva flow, which washes away food particles and offsets the sugar content in the fruits.
- Sugar-free gum is also an option for older kids to help develop a bigger, stronger jaw.
Hidden Sugar In Common Drinks
For healthy oral development it’s important to minimize sugar intake as much as possible.
Apart from the obvious culprits like soda, there are hidden sources of sugar in common drinks.
Although milk is a great option for promoting strong teeth, it does contain sugar and therefore shouldn’t be consumed too often (even unflavoured milk).
For the same reason, fruit juices should be drunk in moderation. Apple juice contains few of the benefits of chewing the fruit whole, and has an extremely high sugar content.
The best drink for your kids is fluoridated water. Fluoride actively strengthens teeth while water is best at maintaining saliva production – another key area in overall dental health.
Can Sippy Cups Cause Tooth Decay?
Here at Dr. Simon Pong we often see early onset tooth decay in young children caused by prolonged exposure to sipping cups.
A sippy cup can cause dental decay if your child:
- Holds the cup in their mouth for long periods of time. This prolonged contact can lead to dental decay.
- Naps with their cup. If your toddler falls asleep with the sippy cup in their mouth, the increased exposure can increase the risk of cavities.
- Drinks sugary beverages. Only use sippy cups for water or milk, to minimize the risk of cavity-promoting sugars landing on their teeth
Find out more about our child-friendly dentistry, and book a consultation today!