falling asleep at breast bad for teeth?

Bethany - posted on 01/07/2010 ( 6 moms have responded )

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my 6 mo old little girl falls asleep at the breast all the time. should i be concerned about the residual milk in her mouth rotting her teeth? she hasn't cut any teeth yet, but i can tell she's working on them pretty hardcore at this point, so if i have to change some habits i want to get on it. anyone with experience or advice from a doc? we have our 6 month well visit next week, but i thought i would check here first in case one or two of the little chompers poke through before then : )

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Minnie - posted on 01/07/2010

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Tooth decay is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcous mutans. It's found in nearly everyone's mouth- and is transferred from mom to baby when she kisses, shares food, etc.

Some people have an exceptionally virile strain of s. mutans, and it is those people who will get cavities pretty much no matter what they do.

Breastmilk is antibacterial- it contains mucins that bind bacteria, lactoferrin that prevents the use of necessary iron by bacteria, macrophages that consume bacteria and lysing enzymes that destroy bacteria.

A study done on the decaying properties of breastmilk was done- teeth were immersed in sugar water, cow's milk, and breastmilk. The teeth in sugar water decayed in four weeks, those in cow's milk in 14 weeks, and in breastmilk, no decay was found.

About 10% of nursing toddlers will have dental caries, but there are other factors involved here- not just the fact that they night nurse. Daytime eating habits, oral hygiene, and the virile strain of s. mutans.

Minnie - posted on 01/08/2010

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Quoting Amy:

I am a dental hygienist who has worked in a pediatric dental office and have seen first hand dental caries caused from breastfeeding. There is sugar in breast milk. S. mutans consume the sugar and convert it into acid which then causes decay.



Of course there is sugar in breastmilk. But many dentists are not up to date with current research- which shows that night time nursing is NOT the cause of dental caries for the overwhelming majority of children.





Breastmilk contains many properties, some of which I listed above, which prevent that decay caused by s. mutans.

Breanne - posted on 01/07/2010

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DON'T FRET. "DOES NIGHTTIME BREASTFEEDING CAUSE CAVITIES?"
"My two-year-old has several cavities. The dentist says it is because I am still nursing him, especially at night. Does nighttime breastfeeding cause cavities?"

This is an issue that dentists and breastfeeding advocates still don't agree on. There is research that supports both sides. Here is my opinion.

1. Most children get at least one cavity. Some children get several. A select few have a genetic susceptibility to have many cavities. These few tend to get cavities no matter what is done to prevent them.

2. Most children breastfeed. Some children continue to breastfeed into their second and third year of life. These children sometimes nurse once or twice a night.

3. Most "night-nursers" are therefore going to have at least one cavity. Some are going to get several cavities, and occasionally the child that has genetically weak teeth, and also happens to be a night-nurser, will get many cavities.

4. So when a night-nurser has a lot of cavities, dentists like to blame this on the sugar in the breast milk that sits on the teeth overnight. What dentists don't realize, however, is that MOST night-nursers either DON'T get cavities or have only one or two.

5. Some studies have shown that night-nursers don't have any more cavities than children who are already weaned.

So here is my conclusion - in general, night-nursing does NOT increase the risk of a child getting cavities enough to cause parents to intentionally wean their babies at night. You may have other reasons to do so, but do not wean at night in order to decrease cavities. If your baby night-nurses it is prudent to brush his teeth thoroughly first thing in the morning.

I do, however, have one exception to this. If a one, two or three year old child (or any age) shows signs of unusual tooth decay and numerous cavities, then the parents should do EVERYTHING they can to prevent further decay and cavities. Because there MAY be a slightly increased risk from night-nursing, the parents may need to wean the baby from night-nursing (and by all means, continue during the day as long as you wish).

http://www.askdrsears.com/faq/bf3.asp

Bethany - posted on 01/07/2010

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thanks lisa...i kinds figured that but i was just concerned because i know there is a lot of sugar in breastmilk, and my sister had some trouble with her teeth when she was a toddler because of bottles of juice at bedtime.

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Amy - posted on 01/08/2010

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I am a dental hygienist who has worked in a pediatric dental office and have seen first hand dental caries caused from breastfeeding. There is sugar in breast milk. S. mutans consume the sugar and convert it into acid which then causes decay.

Minnie - posted on 01/07/2010

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Breastmilk conains properties that prevent tooth decay. It is fine (and completely normal and good, considering breastfeeding releases sleep-inducing hormones in baby).



An infected tooth not too long ago could likely be a death-sentence. I hardly think that the natural way of putting an infant to sleep would have been so dangerous.

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