Breastfeeding is best for dental health

Breastfeeding, dental health
Breastfeeding is best for dental health.

A new study by Adelaide University’s Associate Professor Karen Peres has found a positive correlation between breastfeeding and fewer misaligned teeth. The findings add one more item to the list of positive benefits of breastfeeding.

However, before any mothers of newborns can sleep soundly with this news (as if you slept soundly anyway), the same study also found the same benefits may be undone by the use of pacifiers.

The study tracked just over 1,300 children for five years, including how much they breast-fed at 3 months, 1 year and 2 years old. The authors also asked how often the children used a pacifier, if at all, when the kids were 3 months, 1 year, 2 and 4. About 40 percent of the children used a pacifier daily for four years.

When the children were 5, the researchers determined which of them had various types of misaligned teeth or jaw conditions, including open bite, crossbite, overbite or a moderate to severe misalignment.

“All children who were born in 2004 were investigated when they were born up to five years old, including different aspects of their life like socio-economic conditions and habits, including breastfeeding,” A/Prof Peres told The Adelaide Advertiser.

“The children then had oral health examinations when they were five years old which found those who were exclusively breastfed up to six months of age were more likely to present teeth in a good position.”

The risk of overbite was one-third lower for those who exclusively breast-fed for three to six months compared to those who didn’t, the findings showed. If they breast-fed at least six months or more, the risk of overbite dropped by 44 percent.

Similarly, children who exclusively breast-fed for three months to six months were 41 percent less likely to have moderate to severe misalignment of the teeth. Breast-feeding six months or longer reduced their risk by 72 percent.

The findings were published online June 15 in the journal Pediatrics.

“If children breastfed exclusively for up to six months of age, as well the use of a pacifier, they were also less likely to develop oral disorders,” A/Prof Peres added.

“The logical explanation (for this) is children are more likely to develop proper muscle tone than those who have been exposed to bottle feeding,” she added.

The next step of the study is to continue to follow the children’s teeth and jaw development into adulthood.

“We will look at the same children next year when they will be 12 years old,” A/Prof Peres said.



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