Faculty Advisor(s)

Courtney E. Vannah



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This research poster addresses the question “What differences are seen between formula and breastfed babies in the development of the oral microbiome?” The bacteria that make up the oral microbiome begins accumulating from birth through interactions with the environment and caregivers. When it comes to the oral cavity, bacteria such a Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli, can be transferred through saliva or feeding. Breastfeeding provides important nutritional and immunological benefits to the development of infants but it also plays a vital role in the development of the oral microbiome that may be superior to that of formula-feeding. Studies show that the oral microbiome of breastfed infants varies greatly from that of a formula fed infant. Breast milk when combined with an infant’s saliva produces an antibiotic effect that inhibits colonization of several species of opportunistic bacteria. Breast feeding can also introduce strains of the bacterial species Lactobacilli, such as L. gasseri, which exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. Lactobacilli is not affected by the antibacterial conditions in an infant’s oral cavity, and in turn, can also encourage the inhibition of cariogenic bacteria, such as S. Mutans, from colonizing in the oral cavity. Formula fed infants lack the antibacterial conditions as well as the bacterial strains of Lactobacilli. The oral microbiome of infants that are formula fed versus breastfed show greater numbers of anaerobic species of bacteria including those which cause inflammation. The types of bacteria that initially colonize the oral microbiome in infancy can greatly impact oral health as well as immune response in adulthood. This literature review identifies many differences between the two types of feeding favoring breastfeeding over formula feeding.

Publication Date



Dental Hygiene

Breastfeeding: The Best Formula For The Oral Microbiome



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