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Nursing May Help Babies' Oral Health

There’s more good news for the approximately 80 percent of babies who are breastfed in America each year. According to a new study out of Queensland, Australia, nursing a baby can help improve oral health from birth.

Conducted at the Queensland University of Technology, the study was published in the medical journal Scientific Reports and examined the effects of saliva and breast milk on babies’ oral biomes. Researchers found that the combination of the two helped stave off some dangerous microbes for up to 24 hours.

The team concluded that this is due to a natural chemical reaction in a baby’s mouth, where the combination of breast milk and newborn saliva acts as an antibacterial compound in the mouth. In fact, breast milk alone releases powerful antibiotic properties, including naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide. This is thanks to a compound found in milk called xanthine oxidase. The hydrogen peroxide is also responsible for activating the lactoperoxidase system, another system that produces compounds that act as antibacterial agents.

And it doesn’t just benefit the oral cavity, either. The study went on to say that the combination of milk and saliva also helps ward off early childhood illness. In fact, researchers believe that the hydrogen peroxide generated in the mouth continues to benefit baby as it is swallowed and finds its way into the stomach and intestines, keeping both clear of bacteria and illness.

Dentists recommend that babies see a dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts or by the age of 1 to set them on a path for optimal oral health.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Abelar for you or your little one, please call the office at 858-256-4264.

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