PHE publishes statement on breastfeeding and dental health

Home > PHE publishes statement on breastfeeding and dental health

21 December 2018

Public Health England (PHE) has published a statement highlighting the importance of breastfeeding in protecting infant dental health.

The statement includes the current evidence and core messaging for dental teams and healthcare professionals, as well as a new infographic.

The key messages include:

  • Dental teams should continue to support and encourage mothers to breastfeed
  • Not being breastfed is associated with an increased risk of infectious morbidity (for example gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, middle-ear infections)
  • Breastfeeding up to 12 months of age is associated with a decreased risk of tooth decay
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for around the first 6 months of life − complementary foods should be introduced from around 6 months of age alongside continued breastfeeding
  • The prevalence of breastfeeding in UK is low, with 34% of mothers still breastfeeding their child at 6 months and only 1% exclusively breastfeeding.

Further advice for dental teams can be found in Health Matters: Child Dental Health and Delivering Better Oral Health (2014).

Health Matters: Child Dental Health (2017) states 5:

“Health professionals, such as midwives and health visitors, should support and encourage women to breastfeed. Creating the right environment to promote this is crucial. The Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative provides a robust evidence-based framework to develop a whole-systems approach to breastfeeding.”

Read the full statement and infographic.

We welcome this statement and its recognition of the value of breastfeeding – a key part of our Call to Action campaign is urging UK governments to recognise breastfeeding in all relevant policies, from dental health to environmental sustainability. Find out more.

PHE's new infographic highlights that breastfeeding up to 12 months is associated with a decreased risk in tooth decay.