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Nursing to sleep and cavities??

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi, I nurse my 8 month old to sleep and then nurse her 2 or 3 more times at night. She's got 2 teeth and more are imminent, and I was wondering about her teeth. Should I wipe them off with a cloth after she's done nursing?? I don't really know how that is supposed to work while I am keeping her asleep though. She doesn't eat any sweeteners yet, and I am thinking of giving her the prescribed fluoride drops (no fluoride in the water here and I have horrible enamel to pass down to her). I've just seen some pretty rough stuff in some little teeth and I don't want to end up with cavities down the road due to negligence on my part. Any help would be great, thanks!
post #2 of 9
I asked my very knowledge LC about this (my baby is 10 months and has 8 teeth). She said that BM alone is not likely to cause problems, but BM plus fructose or other sugars might--so the time to clean teeth is after eating solid foods, but it's not necessary after every nursing. So we do a cursory teeth clean after dinner. Mostly I just sweep inside his mouth to check for leftovers then let him play with a toothbrush.
post #3 of 9
I read somewhere that there was an enzyme or something in breastmilk that helped prevent cavities. Makse sense to me since my DD didn't get one until after I quit nursing her to sleep.
post #4 of 9
i am concerned about this too. ds's dentist says not to nurse to sleep, and his teeth are really yellow. I try to brush them, or wipe them off, but I get bit a lot.
post #5 of 9
I'd ask the dentist to show me some some research backing his theory. sadly the dental nurse we went to didn't seem to believe in research, just in what she claimed to have "seen".

Here's the study mentioned above:

Host ligands and oral bacterial adhesion: studies on phosphorylated polypeptides and gp-340 in saliva and milk

Contents: Lab study showing that contents in breast milk protects teeth!

And the two big studies that are IT, when it comes to research on breastfeeding an it's effect on dental health:

Association Between Infant Breastfeeding and Early Childhood Caries

Contents: “Data about oral health, infant feeding, and other child and family characteristics among children 2 to 5 years of age (N = 1576) were extracted from the 1999–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” “After adjusting for potential confounders significant in bivariate analyses, breastfeeding and its duration were not associated with the risk for early childhood caries.”

The Effect of Prolonged and Exclusive Breast-Feeding on Dental Caries in Early School-Age Children

Contents: “A total of 17,046 healthy, mother-infant breast-feeding pairs were enrolled from 31 Belarussian maternity hospitals and affiliated polyclinics, of whom 13,889 (81.5&percnt were followed up at 6.5 years.” “Our results, based on the largest randomized trial ever conducted in the area of human lactation, provide no evidence of beneficial or harmful effects of prolonged and exclusive breast-feeding on dental caries at early school age.”
post #6 of 9
This may be the stupid question of the day, but what is the difference between a carie and cavity? location on the tooth? severity?

I like those studies, but does nursing to sleep carry 'risks' with the milk sitting in their mouth? DOES the milk even sit in their mouth? I imagine you swallow when you sleep, it's a reflex! And you still make saliva when sleeping. I'm confused as to why/how dentists think babies are sleeping with mouths full of milk.
post #7 of 9
post #8 of 9
Originally Posted by Mrs.Music View Post
I read somewhere that there was an enzyme or something in breastmilk that helped prevent cavities.

I'm a Registered Dental Assistant (currently a SAHM). and that is most definitely a blanket statement! Most dentists (& assistants) do NOT know the difference between formula and breastmilk. Breastmilk contains lactoferrin, which helps fight tooth decay! Bottle feeding is different than nursing via the latch. With nursing, the baby only receives what he actively tries to get out, and with the wide latch of a breastfed baby, the milk goes straight down. Bottle latches are much more shallow, and the flow is constant (assuming you are not using a newborn nipple). Even if the baby is asleep with the nipple in his mouth, milk is most likely still coming out. The baby is not actively sucking, so it just pools in his mouth.

My dentist actually knew what he was talking about, encouraged breastfeeding (& night nursing!) and also discussed the benefits of nursing in correlation with the jaw. The longer you nurse, the less likely your baby is to need braces. The latch helps to better form the jaw, allowing for optimal spacing, and less crowding. Obviously there will always be exceptions, but the dentist I worked for, and the dentist my aunt works for (Pediatric specialty) advocated for extended nursing!

Of course brush your baby's teeth morning and night, as it's never too early to instill good hygiene habits. Have your babe eat healthy, and keep on nursing!
post #9 of 9
when DD was under a year I just wiped her mouth out with a damp cloth after having solids. now we actually brush her teeth a couple of times a day. after finding out about the studies showing that breastmilk by itself actually is good for teeth, I've never worried about her night-nursing.
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