Breastfeeding and Dental Decay in Children

by | Nov 10, 2016 | Oral Health

After years of hearing the myth that breastfeeding children is associated with early childhood caries, finally some scientific vindication.

breastfeeding babyA recent study in Acta Paediatrica shows that breastfeeding up to 12 months of age is not associated with an increased risk of decay and may, in fact, offer some protections compared with formula.

Drawing from the conclusions of 63 previously published papers, this broad meta-analysis evaluated studies of those who breastfed with those who did not breastfeed. It included studies of those who were still breastfeeding after 12 months as compared with those who were not. All results were pooled together. The participants from all studies were predominately conducted in high and middle income countries, with only eight studies from low income countries.

While breastfeeding appears to be a benefit up to 12 months, the study did go on to note that breastfeeding beyond that – a time when the first teeth erupt – had a higher risk of caries. But it appears this may have nothing to do with breastfeeding and everything to do with the child’s habits as they get older. These include

  • Prolonged breastfeeding, including feeding during sleep.
  • Foods and drinks apt to promote decay.
  • Inadequate oral hygiene.

Consider bringing your breastfed baby to the dentist at 12 months of age for an evaluation. We can support your breastfeeding choice and give you some take home tips on how to maintain your child’s good dental health.

Image by myllissa

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