Babies who are exclusively breastfed are less likely to develop dental conditions like overbite, open bite, crossbite and misaligned teeth compared to babies who were formula fed, according to a study. The study was reported by US News and HealthDay.
Researchers from the University of Adelaide analyzed data from more that 1,300 children over the span of five years. The study observed how much the babies were breastfed at 3 months, 1 year and 2 years old. The researchers examined the babies’ teeth by the time they reached 5 years old.
They found that those who were exclusively breastfed for three to six months were one-third less likely to develop overbite and their chances of developing moderate to severe misaligned teeth dropped by 41%.
When the babies were breastfed beyond six months, the chances further decreased. They lowered their possibility of an overbite by 44% and misalignment by 72%.
Karen Peres, lead author of the study, speculated that the reason why children who were breastfed more had less dental issues had something to do with the support breastfeeding gave to the development of the baby’s jaw and tongue.
“The plausible mechanisms which may explain the association between exclusive breast-feeding and lower risk of having [misaligned teeth or jaws] . . . include the adequate development of the orofacial structures in children who are breastfed, such as proper muscular tone and nasal breathing,” Peres said.
Dr. Joanna Pierro, a pediatric chief resident at Staten Island University Hospital, explained this to HealhDay in simpler terms.
“Unlike feeding with a bottle, breastfeeding requires the baby to move her jaw and tongue in ways that help develop the oral cavity,” she said. “So long before baby breaks her first tooth, she is creating the foundation for proper alignment of the teeth.”
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.
Sources: June 15, 2015. "Breast-Feeding May Have Dental Benefits, Study Suggests". usnews.com June 16, 2015. "Breastfeeding Could Improve Your Baby’s Dental Health". parents.com