Breastfeeding does seem to have certain dental benefits on its own, the most important thing that moms can do is prevent cavities early on.
According to a recent study, kids who are breastfed for two years or longer may lead to are more likely to have dental cavities.
According to CNN, the team analysed breastfeeding behaviors and sugar consumption for 1,129 children in Pelotas, Brazil.
At age 5, the children visited a dentist, and were examined for decayed, missing and filled primary tooth surfaces and severe early childhood caries, or severe cavities. Severe early childhood caries were defined as six or more decayed, missing and filled primary tooth surfaces.
Among the children in the study, 23.9 percent had severe cavities and 48 percent had at least one tooth surface affected by a cavity. Kids who were breastfed for two years or longer had a 2.4 times higher risk of having severe cavities, compared to kids who were breastfed for less than a year.
“There are some reasons to explain such an association. First, children who are exposed to breast-feeding beyond 24 months are usually those breastfed on demand and at night. Second, higher frequency of breastfeeding and nocturnal breastfeeding on demand makes it very difficult to clean teeth in this specific period,? shared said Dr. Karen Peres, lead author of the study and associate professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
However, the study found that breastfeeding between 12 and 23 months did not bring with it a higher risk of cavities.
About one quarter of the kids were breastfed for 24 months or longer.
Dr. Ruchi Sahota, a family dentist and spokeswoman for the American Dental Association, said that while breastfeeding does seem to have certain dental benefits on its own, the most important thing that moms can do is prevent cavities early on.
“Even breast milk has sugar in it. That’s why babies love it. That’s also why we need to make sure we’re wiping down baby’s gums after they eat with a moist cloth. And then brushing the teeth twice a day, when they come in, with a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. And it’s really important to see your family dentist,” shared Sahota.
Sahota recommends parents bring their child to the dentist as soon as the first tooth comes in. She also said it’s important for parents to take care of their own teeth, because if they share a spoon with their child but they have cavities, the cavity-causing bacteria can be passed along.
“What I can tell you is the moms that I see while they are pregnant, those are the moms that I have the opportunity to educate and talk to about prevention. Then whether they breastfeed or not, just those nuggets of education play a big role in preventing cavities,” she noted.
She concludes by saying, “Ultimately, what this study shows me is that breastfeeding up to 24 months is OK. And then if you choose to breastfeed after 24 months, be sure that you’re also employing preventative methods to avoid cavities.”
The study was published journal Pediatrics.