Extended Breastfeeding And Your Baby
How does breastfeeding, bottle-feeding and sugar intake affect children’s risk for cavities?
There are not many studies. Published in Pediatrics, a study out of Brazil examined whether long-term breastfeeding alone, separate from sugar consumption, affects children’s risk for developing future cavities. The study involved 1,129 children who at age five were evaluated by dentists for filled, decayed and missing primary tooth surfaces, and for severe cavities.
It was found that nearly 25% had severe cavities, or six or more filled, decayed or missing primary tooth surfaces. Those who were breastfed for 2 years or more had double the risk of severe cavities than those breastfed for under one year.
The researchers explained the results. Children who were breast-feeding beyond 24 months are usually those breastfed on demand and at night. Also, the higher frequency of these habits makes it very difficult to clean teeth in this specific period. It was also discovered that if the babies were breastfed for just 6 months, 72% of the time, they are less likely to develop crooked teeth.
Does this mean that breastfeeding is bad for baby’s teeth?
It certainly is not. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one year of breast-feeding followed by reassessment. The World Health Organization suggests breast-feeding for two years or more. Experts say that mothers and babies can go on breastfeeding as long as preventive measures are employed to avoid cavities, such as early toothbrushing, wiping off excess milk and sugar from teeth and gums, use of fluoride and the like.
Because of the benefits of breast-feeding to children’s overall health, it is still very much encouraged that babies suckle their mother’s milk for as long as can be – for at least 12 months, if feasible, 24 months. However, the mechanisms underlying this practice (based on the results of the above study) still need further investigation.
Infant Oral Health by our Seattle Dentist
You must begin to talk to us about your baby’s oral health as soon as his first teeth grow in or at age one year, as recommended. We at Smile Art in Seattle are just as concerned about baby’s teeth as we are of adults’. See Dr. Jamie Lee soon for your baby’s first appointment.