Fluoride reduces dental risk from minimal and extended breastfeeding

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Cavity-conscious mothers can rest assured their children will not be at increased risk of tooth decay if they can't breastfeed or they want to breastfeed their children for longer—as long as they have access to fluoridated water, research from the University of Adelaide has found.

The new research, led by Dr. Diep Ha of the University of Adelaide in collaboration with dental and nutrition experts from Australia and UK, published in the Journal of Dental Research, looked at cavities in five and six-year-olds, whether they had been exposed to fluoridated water, and if they had been breastfed as infants and for how long.

The study used data collected in one of the largest and most comprehensive population-based studies of child oral : the National Child Oral Health Study 2012-14.

Results indicated a for and good dental health – more than one month and up to 24 months.

Minimal breastfeeding (no breastfeeding or breastfeeding for less than one month) and extended breastfeeding beyond 24 months were both associated with increased dental cavities.

But these effects were lessened if children were exposed to fluoridated water.

Senior author Professor Loc Do, from the University of Adelaide's Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, said dental decay is the most prevalent chronic condition in children.

"Breastfeeding is important not only for general health but also for the dental health of young children,'' said Professor Do.

"Minimal breastfeeding can increase risk for having dental decay in children, as can sustained breastfeeding beyond 24 months.

"However, can be reduced by drinking fluoridated water in formula or ensuring that breastfed children are given fluoridated water to drink after the age of 6 months."

Professor Do said, in fluoridated areas, breastfeeding can be recommended beyond the age of 24 months. In non-fluoridated areas, breastfeeding for up to 24 is recommended not only for child and development but also for child dental health. A dialogue between health organisations should be established to maximise benefits of both breastfeeding and water fluoridation.

"The use of fluoridated tap water should be recommended for young ,'' he said. "The dental profession should support and encourage mothers of infants to breastfeed."

Explore further

Making the case for fluoridated water

More information: D.H. Ha et al. Fluoridated Water Modifies the Effect of Breastfeeding on Dental Caries, Journal of Dental Research (2019). DOI: 10.1177/0022034519843487
Journal information: Journal of Dental Research

Citation: Fluoride reduces dental risk from minimal and extended breastfeeding (2019, May 13) retrieved 23 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-05-fluoride-dental-minimal-breastfeeding.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

May 13, 2019
It's the sweets, stupid. Breastfeeding is crucial, but this is the worst sort of popular science reportage: no data, no sample size, no error bars, just a statistical inference.

Is the claim then that fluoridated breast milk is like a vaccine that confers 'immunity" to dental caries? There is no explanation of the chemistry that could possibly link fluoride in breast milk (infants are of course toothless) to reduced tooth decay as they grow up.

Another, safer way to fight tooth decay that doesn't require infants to ingest industrial waste chemicals: don't introduce children to sugary, processed foods.

May 13, 2019

1. Information on "data, sample size, error bars", etc. can be discovered from reading the study.

2. The finding was that fluoridated water helps in reducing the increased dental decay resulting from too little, or prolonged breastfeeding. It was not a study to determine the cause of human breastmilk impact on dental caries. Nor was there any claim made in that regard.

2. There are no "industrial waste chemicals" involved in water fluoridation.

3. As there is nothing unsafe about water fluoridation, there is no dental decay prevention intervention that is safer.

4. Fluoridation reduces dental decay resultant of those who"introduce children to sugary, processed foods", as well as from all other factors. Because vast educational efforts on the cause of dental decay over the decades has not eliminated the problem is not a reason to eliminate one of the most viable means to prevent it in entire populations.

Steven D. Slott, DDS

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more