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Breastfeeding for two years or longer can cause dental cavities

Breastfeeding up to 24 months is alright. But continuing breastfeeding after that can be harmful for your children’s teeth

India TV Lifestyle Desk India TV Lifestyle Desk
New Delhi Published on: July 01, 2017 15:43 IST
breastfeeding dental problems
breastfeeding kid for more than two years can increase risk of dental problems

A recent study has concluded that kids who are breasted for more than two years are more prone to have dental cavities later in life. According to a CNN report, the team studied the breastfeeding behaviours and sugar consumption for 1,129 children in Pelotas, Brazil. The findings established that breastfeeding had a direct connection to dental cavities in children. 

At age 5, children who visited dentists were examined for decayed, missing and filled primary tooth surfaces and serious early childhood caries, or severe cavities. Severe childhood caries are defined as six or more decayed, missing or filled primary tooth surfaces.  

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Among them, 23.9 per cent suffered from severe cavities and 48 per cent had at least one tooth surface affected by dental cavity. Children who were breastfed for two or more years had a 2.4 times higher risk of suffering from severe cavities, relative to the kids who were breastfed for a year or less. 

"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.

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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.

The study has ultimately concluded that breastfeeding up to 24 months is alright. But continuing breastfeeding after that can be harmful for your children’s teeth. Make sure that you use preventative methods to avoid the cavities. 

(With ANI Inputs) 

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