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How to minimize cavities in your child's mouth from breastfeeding

NOTE: I totally believe in breastfeeding. This article is meant to help moms minimize the chance of their children experiencing cavities from breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding and cavities in your kid’s mouth:

Breastfeeding has many advantages that are great for your child’s wellbeing, however you need to be aware of the following regarding your child’s oral health while breastfeeding:

  • Children’s teeth develop from the time they are born until they are 7-12 months old when the teeth make their way through the gums and appear in their mouth. Any residual sugar from milk needs to be avoided while the teeth are growing inside the gums. This means that you should never let the child fall asleep while breastfeeding
  • If falling asleep is inevitable, then have a bottle ready with warm water and have them drink that to clean their mouth before they fall asleep  
  •  Wet wipes (natural, with no chemicals or toxins) or a damp, soft cloth are great to clean their gums after they drink milk

Remember, just because you don’t see any teeth in their mouth doesn’t mean that their habits won’t affect their teeth growing in. Rampant caries (decay) is the number one problem with breastfeeding.

This means that before teeth appear in the oral cavity, they will have decay on them. Click here for more on: early childhood caries statistics

Infant tooth decay is a major issue and can be easily prevented. I suggest the following while breastfeeding your child to help prevent early childhood caries:

  1. Limit your child’s time while breastfeeding to as minimal as possible 
  2. Make sure your child is awake during breastfeeding
  3. Have a bottle of water ready and every time your child is done, give him/her water to drink
  4. Make sure no sugary milk stays in their oral cavity. Remove all milk when you are done

We at Dr. Brite advocate breastfeeding whenever possible. It has proven benefits for both mother and baby. The focus of today’s article is solely to alert you to the oral care concern for your baby and what you should be aware of. 

FAQs

1. Can breastfeeding cause cavities in baby?

Breast milk and breastfeeding alone do not cause cavies.

According to a commonly held belief held by some new parents, breast milk contains sugar that can cause cavities in newborns and infants. This is not true at all.

2. How can I protect my baby's teeth from cavities?

What Can We Do to Avoid Cavities?

1. Establish healthy oral hygiene habits from an early age. Instruct children to brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and to floss on a daily basis.
2. Make sure you get adequate fluoride. Fluoride treatment on a regular basis toughens the enamel, making it more difficult for acid to enter.
3. Some foods should be limited or avoided.

3. Can breastfeeding affect toddler teeth?

In addition to the continued health benefits for both mother and child, breastfeeding promotes optimal jaw and tooth development. A breastfed child is less likely to have crooked teeth , and the longer the child is breastfed the greater the reduction in risk.

4. Does breastfeeding affect teeth growth?

An Australian study with more than 1100 children, published last year in Paediatrics, found that exclusively breastfed children had superior teeth and jaw alignment by the time they were 5. Compared to those who were not, they had a 72 percent lower risk of developing these problems.

5. Will breastfeeding at night cause cavities?

Nursing (especially at night) is frequently cited as a cause of tooth decay, just as letting a baby sleep with a bottle of milk is tagged with baby bottle mouth. However, no conclusive evidence has been found to link nursing to cavities (whether done at night or otherwise).