For a long time as a dentist, the word ‘breastfeeding’ never left my mouth. That was a huge problem because breastfeeding is crucial for healthy kid’s teeth. Kids dentistry needs to begin much earlier and always address breastfeeding. Breastfeeding seeds the oral microbiome. Food is your best way to prevent cavities naturally in kids.
The role of a healthy oral microbiome plays a huge role in your kid’s dental health.
For every mother, the nine months of pregnancy is a big challenge. In this time your child grows from a tiny speck to a human being. All inside your body!
Soon after birth, the challenge of caring, feeding and watching them is a full-time job. In the last few years, the benefits of breastfeeding have become better understood. But like the pregnancy gut microbiome, benefits of breastmilk relates to microbiota.
The idea that breastmilk has a microbiome is a new concept in itself. Studies have shown that it is a new way to look after your kid’s dental health. Your kid’s oral flora connects to your gut health.
Let’s have a close look at how the breast milk microbiome shapes your kids dental health.
Breastfeeding establishes the oral and gut microbiome
There have been two big mistakes in how we treat kid’s dental health.
1.- Kid’s dentistry starts too late.
Waiting for the first teeth to erupt fails look at how the body grows teeth right from birth. These teeth then erupt into the oral microbiome. An imbalanced oral flora and can get kids dental health off to the wrong start. Both of these factors influence your kid’s dental health.
2.- We don’t focus on the benefits of probiotic bacteria.
The notion that microbiota are harmful has been the wrong approach to kids health. Oral flora also have probiotic roles against cavities and other dental diseases. But they also establish your kid’s gut microbiome. The digestive system is where a child’s immune system begins. It starts with the oral microbiome which acts to seed the gut flora.
When a child is born, it’s oral, and gut microbiome are exposed to the world. The placental and vaginal microbiome are the fetal sources of the newborn microflora. As soon as a newborn enters the world, bacteria swiftly move in.
The first weeks of your kid’s life establish the digestive system. The oral microbiome is also the place where digestive microbiome begins. Kids dental health is managed by oral flora.
The oral and gut flora in a newborn remain similar for early weeks to months. The then become distinct yet related. The oral microbiome seeds (via saliva) the gut microbiome. It acts as like a ‘bodyguard’ for the gut microbiome.
Why is breastmilk so good for babies? The truth is in the bacteria
Your child’s immune system forms after the early stages from birth.
A newborn’s oral microbiome talks with the outside world. It’s the primary messenger to the neonatal gut microbiome. Every breath, surface, and touch provide a host of bacteria. But one of the biggest influences is newborn nutrition.
Breastfeeding is like a slip and slide of microbes and nutrients packaged by the mother’s body. It allows you to control how your kid’s oral and gut flora form.
There are hundreds of bacterial species delivered in healthy breast milk. In a world full of bacteria, breastmilk is your vehicle of probiotics into your kid’s oral microbiome. And for the rest of their life, food will continue to feed their oral and gut flora.
To make matters even more complex, the breast milk microbiome doesn’t stay the same. It shifts and changes during different stages of lactation.
Why is it important to breastfeed? Your kid’s dental health and immune system
The notion that all bacteria are harmful ignores the benefits of probiotic bacteria.
Dentists have recommended that parents shouldn’t kiss their newborn baby. This is based on the idea that it may spread disease-causing bacteria. While this isn’t false (per-se), it fails to see the bigger picture. The role of a mother is to pass her microbiome to her newborn.
Breastfeeding is the maternal transfer of the newborn oral and gut microbiome.
Formula fed babies have different gut microbiota than breastfed kids. It influences life-long health outcomes and may increase the risk of cavities.
These early months will form the first stages of the immune system. The newborn digestive system hosts 80% of the immune system. It relies on a healthy gut microbiome to form.
As well as microbes, breastmilk provides many other bioactive factors. These go beyond standard nutrient functions we associate with food.
By shaping your kid’s gut flora, it plays a key role in their digestive system. Research shows breastfeeding has an impact on your infant’s gut inflammation.
The breast milk microbiome feeds your hormonal and immune system that guide your newborn.
Is a child that doesn’t breastfeed at risk of sickness?
In the dental surgery, I see many kids with symptoms of gut imbalance. Lack of breastmilk oral and gut microbiota may have life-long ill effects.
The role of breastfeeding to develop the jaw and straight teeth is well known. It teaches a child nasal breathing. Kids who struggle to breathe through their nose often have small, underdeveloped jaws. They present with long faces, crooked teeth, and poor breathing
Crooked teeth relate to mouth breathing, blocked nasal sinuses, and swollen tonsils. Studies are beginning to show that these may all start with breastfeeding.
The breast milk microbiome may have long-term effects on your kid’s dental health.
Oral flora delivered during breastfeeding may protect a child from allergies and asthma. They also strengthen their immune system. Breastfeeding may protect against respiratory infections autoimmunity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Later in life, it may also protect against heart disease, obesity, and type-II diabetes. These conditions are now understood to be largely influenced by gut microbiota.
*NOTE: for mothers who can’t breastfeed, don’t despair. These principles can help us to understand what areas we can guide kids back to normal gut health.
The breast milk microbiome is both distinct and changing
The WHO benefits of breastfeeding are all seeded in bacteria.
The maternal transfer of bacteria is amazingly complex. Human breastmilk has specific bacteria (always seem to be present). It also changes as a newborn grows. The microbiota shift as your baby grows!
Research shows certain species may be present in breastmilk all over the world. These include Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species. These probiotic bacteria are key for newborn oral and gut development.
Other studies have shown that the breast milk microbiome is also very complex. There are around 360 different genera of bacteria (a mind-boggling amount). This huge diversity is also fluid and changing during stages of pregnancy.
Lactation stage, gestational age both change the newborn and the breast milk microbiome. Also, vaginal birth or caesarean birth results in changes to breastmilk flora.
Breast milk delivers specific immune changing molecules. Together with bacteria, they develop your newborn’s immune system.
The pregnancy gut microbiome – ground zero for a newborn’s microbiome
The breast milk microbiome is packaged and sent via the maternal digestive system. It’s thought that hormonal changes start a ‘delivery’ system from a mother’s gut. Lymphatic cells then carry gut microbiota to the breast. It’s like a postage system.
During pregnancy, the spike in progesterone increases gut permeability. Leaky gut is known for its link to disease. But pregnancy seems to induce a degree of leaky gut. Transporting gut bacteria to the mother’s blood stream is necessary. From here they travel in special immune system packages to the mammary gland.
The milk microbiome is extremely diverse. The mother’s body orchestrates the packaging of microbes in breastmilk. It also profoundly changes during lactation.
Studies have shown that your gut health will influence breast milk. If you have conditions related to leaky gut, it affects breastmilk. These include type II diabetes and obesity.
The breastmilk from obese mothers tends to contain different and less diverse bacteria. This is compared with milk from normal-weight mothers. Your pregnancy gut health and gut flora are key for breastmilk.
A mother’s microbiome critically shapes the oral flora of a newborn. One of your first priorities for healthy kids is to care for the gut microbiome.
If you have digestive issues, you can help guide yourself and your child back to health by understanding how the gut and breastmilk microbiome influence a child’s health.
The best way to get your gut health in good shape is by changing your diet. My book The Dental Diet gives you the 40-day food plan to boost your gut health beginning with your mouth.
You can get started today with my EBook: Four Steps to Healthier Teeth. It will help you eat the quickest and easiest food changes for the whole family, today!
How was your breastfeeding experience? Leave your comments in the section below.
Want to know more? Dr Steven Lin’s book, The Dental Diet, is available to order today. An exploration of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome and epigenetics it’s a complete guide to the mouth-body connection. Take the journey and the 40-day delicious food program for life-changing oral and whole health.
Click below to order your copy now: