Dr Mark O'Donnell B.D.S
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Study links breastfeeding and straighter teeth
Babies who breastfeed for at least three months may have straighter teeth and fewer orthodontic problems as children, according to a study appearing online in a June 2015 issue of Pediatrics.
The study included 1,303 infants who were followed for five years. At birth, three months, one year and two years, parents were asked whether their children were breastfeeding. They also answered questions about pacifier (soother) use and tooth decay.
At age five, each child had a dental exam. Dentists looked for problems in the way the jaws and teeth aligned, including overbite, underbite and open bite, among others.
Children who were breastfed for three to six months had a 33% lower risk of overbite, compared with children who didn't breastfeed. Children who were breastfed for more than six months had a 44% lower risk of overbite.
Compared with children who did not breastfeed, children breastfed for three to six months had a 41% lower risk of misalignment of the teeth. Those breastfed for more than six months had a 72% lower risk of this condition.
Children who breastfed but also used pacifiers saw less of a benefit, the study found. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that pacifier use during the first six months can decrease a baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
In another news story, one author noted that breastfeeding may help to develop the jaws, teeth and other facial structures in a way that bottle feeding does not.
Male hormone linked with gum problems
Higher testosterone levels are linked with an increased risk of gum problems, says a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Periodontology.
The study used data from a national survey, and included 755 men aged 30 and older.
Men with the highest testosterone levels had about double the risk of gum disease, compared with men who had lower levels. They also tended to have more severe gum disease.
Sex hormones such as testosterone are linked to inflammation, and they also affect bone. A 2009 study did not find that testosterone levels were linked with gum disease in men; however, this study only looked at men aged 65 and older.
How to encourage healthy dental habits away from home
School is just around the corner, which means backpacks and packed lunches await your children. However, one aspect you may not have considered when it comes to lunch options is dental health. All ages are at risk of developing cavities, especially if they don't practice healthy dental habits, according to Kathleen Pace DDS, assistant professor at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.
Dr Pace offers the following tips for parents to promote healthy dental habits in children:
1. Eat healthy foods at home
One of the easiest things you can do to ensure your child will make healthy, tooth-conscious decisions at school is to eat healthy foods at home. Aim to serve your child a balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and protein.
2. Pack fruits and dairy
Packing fruit will satisfy your child's sweet cravings and help them gain all the proper nutrients they need. One of the best snacks you can pack in your child's lunch is a dairy product. Try throwing in a string cheese or a carton of milk.
3. Avoid sticky and sugary foods
Check all the sugar content on any pre-packaged foods or snacks, and opt for more natural or low-sugar foods instead. If you're having trouble thinking of appropriate snacks, fruits with peels can satisfy your little one's sweet tooth without promoting cavities.
4. Be active in their dental care
Participate in your child's morning and nightly teeth cleaning rituals, and teach them the tools to keep those pearly whites healthy and happy.