The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (Pediatrics 2012; 2013) suggests that parents gently clean babies’ gums and teeth after breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding should be exclusive for about the first 6 months of life and should continue, while introducing appropriate complementary foods, to at least age 12 months.
When compared with health outcomes among formula-fed children, the health advantages associated with breastfeeding are many. Breastfeeding significantly reduces the prevalence and severity of many childhood diseases and conditions. Just to name a few, breastfeeding lowers the risk of:
- Acute otitis media
- Gastroenteritis and diarrhea
- Severe lower respiratory infections
- Sudden infant death syndrome
Evidence also suggests that breastfed children may develop a better bite in the baby teeth, which may mean less chance of needing braces. Researchers also examined the relationship between breastfeeding and childhood decay and found that breastfeeding resulted in less childhood decay compared to formula-fed babies.
Dr Rita Trakhtman explains, “As a dentist and a medical practitioner, it is my responsibility to ensure my patients are familiar with the evidence and guidelines pertaining to breastfeeding and to oral health. I encourage my patients to follow the paediatrician’s recommendations to promote and support optimal breastfeeding and oral health practices.”
Language and motor skill development:
Further research findings (Dee, Lee, Grummer-Strawn, 2007) suggest breastfeeding may protect against delays in young children’s language and motor skill development. Fewer concerns about language and motor skill development were evident for children breastfed for 3 months, and concerns generally decreased as breastfeeding continued over 9 months.