Can Breastfeeding Cause Cavities?
In short, yes! However, it is not that straight forward. Remember that to have a cavity there must exist a tooth, bacteria, and sugar.
The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages parents to exclusively breastfeed their children for the first six months, and then complement breastfeeding with appropriate foods up to two years old. This practice will ensure the child is obtaining the necessary nutrients necessary to promote healthy growth and development.
First of all, ouch for mom! Secondly, there is no arguing the benefits a baby will receive from breastfeeding, but the key is what complementary food is used in addition to breastfeeding, once the baby (primary) teeth begin erupting.
How Does Breastfeeding Cause Cavities?
As seen in my previous post “Why Does My Child Have Cavities?”, breastfeeding contributes to early childhood cavities (ECC). However, breastmilk alone will not cause cavities.
If the infant is introduced to complementary foods that are high in simple carbohydrates (sugar), then the breast milk will increase the potential damage by acting as an incubator to the bacteria that feeds (metabolizes) on the sugar.
Breastfeeding Best Practices
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends breastfeeding less than seven times daily to help prevent early childhood cavities (ECC). The AAPD also recommends brushing your baby’s teeth at least twice a day with a rice grain size of ADA approved fluoridated toothpaste.
I hope this information was helpful in ensuring your children have happy and healthy teeth. Please feel free to leave a question or comment below.