Did you know that breastfeeding your infant not only has many health benefits, but also has dental benefits? An article from the Journal of American Dental Association (Feb 2013) states that exclusively breastfed children through 6 months old have less of a chance of developing crooked teeth, which means that your child may need less extensive treatment from the orthodontist. Also there have been several reports that show breastfed children have lower chances of getting several medical problems including middle ear infections (a leading cause of hearing loss in children), diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections, leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, and obesity. Even the mothers that breastfeed also have reduced chances of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
I recommend that all infants are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months and as food is slowly introduced into the child’s diet you won’t need to breastfeed as much. Even after 1 year it is not a problem to continue breastfeeding. At all times it is very important to care for your child’s teeth once they start to erupt. Use a soft toothbrush with a smear of toothpaste to clean the teeth 2 times a day. Also, it is important for children to have a “Dental Home” and we recommend this be done around 12 months old. There are many other important factors to take into consideration and you should talk to an oral health care professional to find out the specific needs for your child.