We have a desperate need to reshape our
notion of healthy eating. Dietary recommendations have never truly been designed to consider our dental health. So how can we use oral health as a way to model our nutritional intake? Well why don’t we work backwards? What food is the healthiest for our teeth? Well it’s breast milk. Breastfeeding gives us the perfect model to both understand and shape our diet for our dental health. There are four main dietary principles of breastfeeding. And the first is function. Breastfeeding promotes the growth of a newborn’s jaw. A baby must use their tongue to press her mother’s nipple against their palate which is soft like wax. This acts to expand the palate and upper jaw which creates straight wide upper teeth. The tongue is strengthened to sit at the top of the mouth which holds open the airways and promotes nasal breathing. All of these forces train an oral resting posture which promote wide straight dental arches. The second factor is nutrients. A mother passes her own store
of crucial vitamins onto a baby. The jaw-growing fat soluble vitamins are
distributed by a mother’s body. For example, vitamin D deficiency in a
mother will result in a child who received vitamin D deficient milk. The role of vitamin D and calcium balance is crucial for bones, teeth and our immune function in our child. Third factor is our microbes. A mother’s body has a fantastic system to transfer her gut microbiome to her newborn’s mouth. Special immune cells package microbes from her gut and deliver them to her mammary gland. The breast milk microbiome is a constant delivery of microbes that seed the oral cavity and eventually the gut microbiome of our child. The final factor is the epigenome. Breastfeeding is now known to switch on certain genes during crucial developmental periods and that will influence lifelong health outcomes. These are the four principles of The Dental Diet where we learn the intimate relationship between our teeth, our food and whole body health.