Bite problems, medically referred to as malocclusions, occur when either the top or bottom row of teeth overextend the opposite set of teeth. In most cases, the treatment method for malocclusions is braces. A recent study from Brazil found that these common dental problems occur less often in children that have been breastfed for at least a year.
To reach this conclusion, researchers followed 153 children. At six months of age, mothers answered questions on feeding habits (breast or bottle), use of pacifiers and thumbsucking. They were given the questions again when their children reached the ages of 3 and 5. By the time the children had grown up, nearly half of them had developed some sort of bite problem.
When comparing the data, the Brazilian team found that children who had breastfed for at least 12 months had a 56% lower chance at developing malocclusions than children who had breastfed for six months or less. This held even after the researchers accounted for other contributing factors, like thumbsucking and pacifier use.
Published in the Journal of Breastfeeding Medicine, this data is consistent with an earlier study in which another team had found that children who breastfeed for long enough periods of time are less likely to experience a problem known as “open bite.” In this dental problem, upper and lower front teeth do not touch when the mouth is closed.
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