Dental Care for Breastfed Toddlers

My daughter is three and half and was recently diagnosed with “bottle syndrome” and I have been told that she needs corrective oral surgery and two crowns to fix this problem. My daughter was breastfed for two and half years, never used a bottle or sippy-cup, doesn’t get juice or candy, and I always brush and floss her teeth twice a day. Could breastfeeding have caused the “bottle syndrome”? Do you know of any alternatives to filing and capping a toddlers teeth? Thank you in advance for your time and consideration in this regard. Jane’s mom


It’s wonderful that your daughter never receives juice or candy but there can certainly still be other carbohydrates and acidic foods in a toddler diet. About the least likely of all the foods to have fed her decay would be breastmilk. It’s odd that people are conditioned to point their fingers to the one thing that provides perfect nutrition needed to build tooth strength, promotes healthy flora, buffers, and contains multiple antimicrobial factors. It’s been shown in lab studies that breastmilk alone does not feed cavity-fighting bacteria, but once any sugar is added to it, the breastmilk cannot prevent cavity-causing bacteria from thriving on the added sugar. Even complex carbohydrates are problematic if they stick to the teeth, as saliva will break them down to sugars.

One contributing factor in some child decay situations is the flora in mother’s mouth. Some moms who focus the bulk of their time on quality parenting find little time left to care for themselves. If you have a decay problem yourself, you now have an excuse to focus more time on your own dental hygiene, for the sake of your child.

With good diet and diligence, some cavities can be arrested. These will never refill to look white and lovely, but they will re-coat with enamel; naturally sealing, or “healing,” the decayed areas. If you were to be successful in such efforts, then the choice to cap a tooth would be mostly cosmetic, depending upon whether it affects tooth alignments. Nicely crowned, or unattractively healed, baby teeth will fall out either way and be replaced with adult teeth that should enjoy better health in one who ventures into extra dental care habits.

Some moms use products such as Spry Gel to leave on their children’s teeth after brushing. This product contains natural, powerful, anti-bacterial and pro-remineralizing ingredients (and is fully edible). Spiffies Toothwipes can be used after snacks and meals. Even a swish with water will do well if the food is not very sticky and teeth are brushed twice daily. The use of the cavity-fighting sugar, xylitol, might be the easiest of beneficial efforts. Xylitol mouth rinses, mints, and gums are available. Decaf (for children) green tea is cavity fighting. Sweeten with a little xylitol and carry it around in a water bottle. If your dentist pushes fluoride, you can tell him your child is getting clean and natural fluoride from tea. Ending a meal with a baby carrot chew or some dark berries can also reduce cavity-causing effects of foods. Providing probiotics and otherwise targeting intestinal health are important steps as well. Some moms have good results with such attempts as these but the occasional child’s mouth seems to be very determined to decay, no matter the diet or care, so please don’t beat yourself up.


Anyone choosing to delay dental treatments while endeavoring to heal the mouth should keep vigilance over the status of the teeth and have regular professional examinations as well. Look for an environmental, integrative, or holistic dentist if you are wanting to follow more current, evidence-based, alternative treatments. If your daughter’s teeth are causing any discomfort, this indicates that the decay is deep enough to more easily cause infection of the roots. These teeth should probably be treated by a dentist sooner rather than later. Go to the Yahoo chat group VeryYoungKidsTeeth and read through the archives for everything you ever wanted to know about keeping kids’ teeth healthy.