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A member asked:

Is it true that nursing can cause tooth decay? i've heard that nursing can cause a child's teeth to decay, especially if they nurse right before falling asleep. is there any truth to this? if so, is there anything we can do to prevent it?

5 doctor answers8 doctors weighed in
Dr. Michael Wollock
Dentistry 29 years experience
Columbia, It : Columbia, it really depends on how long your nursing. Mothers natural milk has natural sugars that can and will cause cavities. I have several mothers who where breast feeding their children till 2, 3 and 4 years of age. Those children would sleep in bed with mom and suckle all night. Cavities on top of cavities on top of more cavities. Sugars, weather natural or processed, bathing teeth over extended periods will always result in cavities. Hope this is helpful, michael i. Wollock, dmd, agd fellow dentistry at suburban square 610-649-0313 www.Dentistryatsuburbansquare.Com.
Dr. Neil McLeod
Prosthodontics 49 years experience
Children : Children always fall asleep after nursing from their mother's breast, that's what its all about! I have heard all about bottle feeding syndrome and how the ingredients of the formula or juice (worst) causes decay. But mum's milk na! of course if your nursing long( after 9 months), you do have to be cleaning your babies teeth., that's how you will prevent decay. Dr neil mcleod dds dentistry that lasts - quality that counts.
Dr. Howard Schneider
Pediatric Dentistry 34 years experience
Sorry Dr. McLeod, but you are mistaken. Mother's milk is loaded with natural sugars and given enough exposure will cause early childhood caries just as easily as formula.
Jan 26, 2014
Dr. Jatin Shah
Dentistry 39 years experience
Decay due to nursing: Once the teeth starts erupting, care should be taken for nursing child with breast or bottle feeding. Especially before sleeping time . You may wipe the teeth gently or a small amount of water may be given depends upon the age of child . Please consult your dentist.
Dr. I. Jay Freedman
Dentistry 43 years experience
Decay happens!: The same rules apply whether you bottle feed or nurse...Teeth that are not cleaned and are covered with breast milk, formula or food will be at higher of decay. The cure is to make sure you use the age appropriate oral hygiene techniques after ever feeding - even bedtime! you're the parent and you create the culture of oral healthcare and oral hygiene in your home.
Dr. Arman Roksar
Prosthodontics 25 years experience
If no teeth have erupted yet, there is no chance of tooth decay. But once the teeth come in, tooth decay is a probality.
Aug 4, 2013
Dr. Howard Schneider
Pediatric Dentistry 34 years experience
Yes: Bacteria can turn mother's milk into acid byproducts just a easily as anything else. Limit your child's breast feeding to when they are hungry. Clean their teeth and gums with a damp gauze and/or infant tooth brush after each feeding. If they have teeth it is time to make an appointment with a pediatric dentist.

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Last updated Mar 17, 2017

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