Does breastfeeding affect my teeth?

Being a new mother is challenging!!! Taking care of the new born can make you forgetful of your own needs and neglect your health. Your overall health and also your dental health is important all times- From pregnancy through lactation. Make sure you follow some healthy eating habits during these phases.

What does calcium do to my body during breast feeding?

You are well aware that calcium is the most important mineral in the composition of your bones and teeth. Maintaining oral health for the prevention of bone loss around the teeth is important for pregnant and lactating women. The daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of calcium for women between the ages of 19 to 50 is 1000mg.  The amount of calcium absorbed from foods decreases as you age. During lactation and at all times of a woman’s life, it is important to maintain adequate calcium levels in the body.

The absorption of calcium increases during pregnancy. Nursing women lose some bone inspite of a high calcium intake, to provide calcium for the milk. During lactation, the calcium resorption increases. This means, that the mother’s bones actually break down and release calcium into the blood stream. Since the kidneys secrete less calcium in the urine, the nursing mother does not waste any of the calcium. The density bone is likely to be normal on weaning.

Although calcium is the key mineral for healthy bones and teeth, other nutrients like vitamin D and phosphorous are required in the right quantities for its absorption and utilisation. The RDA of vitamin D for all women in the age of 19 and 50 is 600 IU per day. The RDA of phosphorous is 700 mg per day.

What are the sources of dietary calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous?

The dietary sources of Vitamin D include salmon, sardines, tuna, milk, eggs and fortified foods. Getting enough sunlight is important for the body to make vitamin D.

The dietary sources of phosphorous include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, legumes. Phosphorous is highly absorbed from animal sources.

Calcium is found in a wide variety of foods. It is best absorbed from milk, yogurt and cheese. Other excellent sources of calcium include

  • canned fish with bones
  • vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli
  • soy foods like tofu and soy milk made with calcium

Dental issues caused by low calcium

Insufficient calcium intake during pregnancy and lactation can cause gum inflammation. This can lead to gum disease and finally bone loss around the teeth. Tooth decay is very common among children world over. Decay is more prevalent in children whose mothers either didn’t take enough calcium or consume too much sugar that eventually cause cavities and tooth decay. It is important to include calcium rich foods in your diet. If you are not taking enough dairy products, talk to your dietitian or doctor about fortified foods and calcium supplements.

Dietary calcium and good food habits help you in the long run in maintaining good bone health. It is equally important to practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing twice daily. And do not forget to visit your dentist for regular check ups.