The aim of this investigation was to study the effects of prolonged breast- or bottle-feeding on dental caries in Japanese infants. This longitudinal study was conducted by means of a questionnaire and clinical examination of 592 children at 18 months, 2 years and 3 years of age. The children were divided into three groups: 1) children still being breast-fed at 18 months of age (n=42); 2) children still being bottle-fed at 18 months of age (n=45); and 3) children weaned off of breast- or bottle-feeding and with no nonnutritive-sucking habits at 18 months of age (n=205). Results showed that breast-feeding at 18 months of age produced many significant differences to the control children, including a higher prevalence of caries and higher number of dft. However, no significant differences were observed between bottle-fed and control children. In conclusion, our results suggest that prolonged breast-feeding at an early age before primary dentition has fully erupted is a risk factor for dental caries. Therefore, breast-fed children need to be monitored more closely, and aggressive methods of preventive care need to be instituted. It is also important to identify factors related to dental caries among breastfed children as soon as possible, and develop effective preventive programs.
2006 by Tokyo Dental College, Japan