Does Extended Breastfeeding Cause Tooth Decay?

My daughter has had four cavities in her four short years of life. How is this possible? I can’t say we’re religious flossers, but the rest of our dental routine is pretty admirable. Regular brushing? Yep. Fluoride tablets? Absolutely. Hard candies? Not allowed.

According to our dentist, my daughter’s tooth decay could have been caused by extended breastfeeding. She pointed out that once solids are introduced, bacteria in the mouth can change and breast milk can actually cause cavities.
extended breastfeeding and cavities
After doing a bit of my own research though, I have to disagree. Repeated studies have shown that breast milk has proteins and antibacterial qualities that prevent tooth decay. My older son was also breastfed until well over two years old and has never had a cavity to this day.

So what has caused my daughter’s cavities? The dentist also mentioned that sharing utensils can cause babies to get some of the strep mutans (a bacteria that causes tooth decay) that we have in our adult mouths. I have to say that we’re probably guilty of sharing ice cream an ice cream spoon now and then. Still, our punishment is FOUR cavities! That seems rather harsh!

Have you had any issues with extended breastfeeding and cavities? Have you received any encouragement or warnings from your dentist?

Comments

  1. Jennifer Bates says:

    My little guy just turned two and will be going under general to have 5+ teeth fixed. I have had 2 dentists and my sister who’s a dental assistant tell me that it was baby bottle mouth from night nursing. It makes me so sad to think I might have caused it. And though everything I read says that nursing doesn’t cause tooth decay, it’s so disheartening to hear people tell you that you caused it. It was enough to make me (mostly) night wean. I try to tell myself that more than likely it has more to do with the fact that he was a preemie who got heavy antibiotics and who knows what other problems because of that.

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