Crossbite: upper baby teeth (*) are inside of bottom baby (black x) and adult teeth (blue x)

Dental Education Lecture: Breast-feeding Lowers Risk of Crossbite

The World Health Organization recommends breast-feeding exclusively for the first six months of an infant's life.  This recommendation is based on benefits for both the mother and the child.  Breast-feeding also enhances head and face growth and development, and helps prevent non-nutritive sucking habits.  Breast-feeding for less than six months or not at all has been shown to result in malocclusion (crooked teeth) and crossbite in the back teeth in particular.  Crossbite (Fig) in deciduous teeth develops early and rarely self-corrects, so early preventive action is needed.

Scientists in Brazil examined 1,377 children aged from three to six years.  Mothers completely a questionnaire to determine breast-feeding history.  Four categories of breast-feeding were identified: never (119), less than six months (720), six to 12 months (312), and more than 12 months (226).  The results show that crossbite decreased with longer history of breast-feeding as shown by the following table.

Time of Breast-feeding Never <6 months 6-12 months >12 months
Incidence of Crossbite 31.1% 22.4% 8.3% 2.2%

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 11/24/2010, last revision 12/24/2010