or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Women's Health  › Dental › Warning: Nursing all night long can lead to cavities
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Warning: Nursing all night long can lead to cavities

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

Hi Ladies!


Haven't been contributing on here for awhile, as my 2 year old twin girls plus 4 year old boy keep me busy.  I just wanted to warn those of you who are extended nursing to try and wean your twins at night.  I took my twins to the dentist today, because I thought I saw a cavity in one of the girls' mouths.  Well, the dentist said she has 6!!!! cavities!  It's almost like she has bottle mouth (where they get cavities from keeping a bottle in their mouths at night), as 4 of the cavities are on her 4 front teeth.  I thought that because she was breastfed that this wouldn't happen.  Well, I guess I was wrong, it can happen.  It doesn't mean it will happen though, as my other twin nurses all night too and doesn't have any cavities.  So, don't get too scared, just be aware that this COULD happen to your children.   


So, now I'm planning on weaning them completely, but just night weaning them for now.  I've been in the process of trying to wean them at night, but now I'm going pretty much cold turkey.  This is my first night, but I actually had them have milk, brush their teeth and then just snuggle to sleep.  First time EVER!  We'll see how the night goes.  Note here:  My girls are 2 years, 4 months.  They really can understand that they don't need "milk" at night.  They don't like it, but they can understand it now.  Milk is going to wake up in the morning....so, don't feel you need to nightwean your year old child, just because you're afraid of them getting cavities. 


Also, just wondering if this has happened to any of you or anyone you know that has extended nursed.  Maybe it's common, but I haven't heard about it before.  If you have heard of any kids getting cavities from nursing all night, please let me know, as it would make me feel like I'm not such a bad parent. 


Sarah Joy

post #2 of 31

i have a close Friend that had this happen to her and her son just last year, he actually had to get all 4 front teeth dealt with  (capped or replaced I'm not sure) and will have metal teeth till he looses his baby teeth. she was just like you in thinking that the breast was safe and not like bottles, but apparently not. I don't think it makes you a bad anything, neither is my friend.  Sorry you had to deal with this.

post #3 of 31

It's not the breast milk that causes cavities but the other food particles on the teeth. Also some people are just more cavity prone. I nursed both my DD's during the night and one of them never had any cavities until she was an adult and the other DD had several cavities by age 3.

post #4 of 31

my dentist tried to say the same thing.


but i didnt buy it. 


some children like mine just have bad teeth and even when my milk dried up her teeth issues continued. teeth issues run in my ex's family. 


be very wary of what the 'doctor's' tell you. i dont trust them with these kind of issues anyways. remember they tell you to CIO, not bed share....


i was part of a huge bf group in my city where the ages ranged upto 6 years. only two kids had teeth issues and both of us parents felt it had nothing to do with bfeeding.


in fact my dd's molars are good but her front teeth were bad. like bottle rush (or brush). 


however this is a big debatable issue. talk to a lot of people. you wont really find a lot of research on this or data of course when they are trying to push formula. ultimately you decide what is right for your family. 

post #5 of 31

Just chiming in here to say I breastfeed all night until we weaned at 2 years and yes he has cavities.  It's a real bummer and of course we'll never know if it was the breast milk or not.  The dentist said they did look like "bottle" cavities..so same difference.  Milky sweet stuff sitting in your mouth all night, might not be the best idea.  Although, I can't imagine how else I would have done it, and would probably do it again if I had another child.  Perhaps more frequent brushing during the day? I also didn't use flouride toothpaste.  It was some tom's of maine or earth's best stuff. Cavities are a real bummer since  it's hard to do dental work on the little ones.

post #6 of 31


I don't have the studies at hand and no time to look them up right now, but I have read that there is no evidence to support breastmilk leading to cavities.  And that the only studies that suggest that are lumping the breastfeeding children in with the formula fed children.  Of course we don't know the specifics of the  eating and tooth brushing habits of the kids in any of the stories of this thread, so we can't tell for sure, but maybe its possible that the cavities came from another source?  For example, do you nurse before naptime, and if so do you brush their teeth first?  It's possible the milk pooling in their mouth and mixing with the food particles from lunch are causing the cavities.  Also, do they drink fluoridated water? 


I just wonder how you would know for sure that it's the nighttime nursing that is the problem, when it could be a combination of daytime habits and having teeth prone to cavities and other factors.

post #7 of 31
My only two kids who nursed through the night until age 2.5+ are the only two I have with absolutely perfect cavity free teeth. Some kids are just more prone to cavities, imo. Dh's family have terrible, cavity prone teeth. I ate nothing but sugar half my life and had zero cavities until I became pregnant.
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 

So, I had the appointment yesterday and it's much more serious than I thought.  The two back molars have to be crowned and possibly extracted.  The two immediate front teeth on top need to be crowned as well (or pulled). and then the two next to the top have cavities.  For the treatments they either want to basically hold her down in a pediblanket and let her cry for 3 20 minute sessions or put her completely under.  I'm getting a second opinion today.  


About what caused the cavities.  I know she must have "bad" teeth, because she has cavities and her twin sister that I nurse the whole night too doesn't have any.  She has classic "bottle"mouth though, which suggests to me that if the nap/night breastfeeding doesn't cause it, it at least contributes to it.  She wakes up every 2 hours for comfort nursing, so having milk in your mouth all night can't be a good thing.  And she does nurse for naps too.  Also, she's the type of nurser that lets milk pool in her mouth, so that's not good either.  I'm not saying that every child that breastfeeds at night will get cavities, but I had no idea that they could get so bad at such a young age.  Even if it's just that she is prone to cavities, I can't imagine this would have happened if she was not still night nursing.  I guess I just wanted to put this subject out there, because even if there is no research to the fact, I wanted to let other ap moms know that this is something that can happen.  I was not told that this could happen with extended night nursing and was in shock yesterday when I was told the extent of her damage.



post #9 of 31

I'm so glad you are getting a second opinion!  See if you can find a holistic dentist: http://www.greenpeople.org/HolisticDentistry.html

post #10 of 31
Thread Starter 

The second place said about the same thing about the level of teeth decay.  They don't do general anesthesia in that office.  Instead, they restrain the children by holding them down (in a nice way) and singing to them, talking to them, explaining to them what's going on.  There were SOOO many kids there that were crying though/so upset.  I could barely stand to see another child cry, let alone my child.  They said she would maybe have to be there for 2 hours to get a crown done and there would be 3 appointments like that.  We decided that that would be too tramautic for her (and us), so we've gone back to the first place.  Though they won't be able to get her in for 3 months.  We're going to try and find some other dentist after the first of the year possibly, since our dental insurance is maxed out for appointments now.  This 2nd opinion also said the nursing needs to stop.  I'm on my 3rd day of night weaning.  It's going better than I expected.  Last night was the longest stretch of sleep I've had since they were born 10:30pm-3:30am.  I needed/wanted to night wean them anyway, so the teeth issue is the thing that really MADE me do it.

post #11 of 31

I think some people are more prone to teeth issues than others -- neither my mom nor I have ever had any cavities, and none of my kids have had any.


That said, I've heard that some toddlers who still nurse all night long do have teeth issues.

post #12 of 31

Here is some good info on breastfeeding and teeth decay. 




Nursing all night long isn't alone the culprit.  Food particles mixed with breastmilk are the worst, so it's really important to make sure the teeth are clean before sleeping.


post #13 of 31
It's good that you feel ready to nightwean. The poor little thing, that's just awful she'll have to go through all that. greensad.gif

I do hope that you seriously consider the naptime issue, because it sounds like it is very important for them to have their teeth brushed well before the sleep. If you're already doing that at night before bed, the nightweaning may not prevent future cavities at all. if you nurse them at naptime, that may be the main problem.
post #14 of 31

i agree with others that it isn't the night nursing that causes the cavities, it's the other food particles on the teeth combined with the milk; and then you have to factor in genetics.


that said, my dd had a TON of dental work done when she was 2y7m and we had her put under with IV sedation.  it was done in the dentist's office.  i would not do it any other way; no way would i let them just hold my baby down and try to do stuff.  my dd had her 4 top front teeth extracted, several baby root canals done and one cap.  she's 4 now and has 4 more cavities.  they dentist has changed her tune now and is saying that it's weak enamel instead of extended bf'ing, lol.  anyways, i'm nervous about them just using valium and laughing gas this time, but i'm sure dd will be fine.  but at age 2, i'd definitely look for an office that will do the IV sedation.

post #15 of 31

My littlest one had cavities as a toddler, I think he was 18 months when I found the decay on his front teeth.  The dentist, in the SF Bay Area so I'm not the only mama nursing her little ones to sleep, night nursing, etc, said it is definitely residue of food on the teeth combined with mama milk that can lead to decay in some kids.  We've become vigilant about brushing and flossing and I night weaned, though I still nursed him to sleep, and he hasn't had any more cavities since then.


The other thing she said was a big issue was the spread of bacteria from an adults mouth to a child's.  I was always sharing food with him.  I'd start to eat a peach, then he's have some, etc.  I think that was a big contributor to his early tooth decay.


I'm sorry she has to have so much dental work!  How upsetting!

post #16 of 31
Thread Starter 

Yes, I think that the night nursing plus mixing with food has caused the problem.  We are night weaning and it's going well, except they wake up early (5:30am) hungry.  I've tried giving water, but she won't take it.  Yesterday I nursed her and then made her take a sip of water.    Day before yesterday I nursed her at 5:30am and didn't have her take any water and then she woke up at 6:15 saying her teeth hurt (she's starting to say that sometimes).  Not sure what I should do about this.  Any suggestions?


Also, good point about sharing food with adults.  I don't do that, but my husband does ALL the time!  I'll have to tell him to stop.  I had no idea this could be an issue.



post #17 of 31

You don't have to have them take a sip of water after nursing as long as their teeth are clean from food.  Plain breastmilk with no food particles are safe and good for teeth.  According to some of the studies from the Kellymom link, teeth were actually strengthened by being immersed in plain breast milk (with no food or sugar particles.)  You also might want to look in adding xylitol into everyone in the house's diet.  That will help rid everyone in the house of the bacteria in their mouth that causes cavities.  My husband and I chew the Spry gum.  I'll add xylitol to my tea, and I have my 2 year old brush his teeth with xylitol and then I have a turn brushing them with regular fluoride free paste.  There's tons of info on this site about the benefits of xylitol (I buy it at Whole Foods.)


I'm not sure what to say about when she says her teeth hurt.  Maybe it's the cavities that are causing her pain?  If the cavities are taken care of maybe her teeth are sensitive now.  Maybe look into a "sensitive teeth" toothpaste?


Good luck!

post #18 of 31

Saw this in new posts and I've got something for you to ask your dentist. Since breastmilk would pool up at the BACK of the mouth, why are most of your LO's cavities on the FRONT of her front teeth? If anything, it seems like you should figure out a way to get her to swish breastmilk all around her mouth to protect her front teeth more.


And if it's due to nursing at night why doesn't your other dd have cavities too?



For my dd, the cause of her cavities was a horrible yeast infection that also caused her to lose her thumbnail. I just wish teeth could grow back like nails do.

post #19 of 31
Thread Starter 

Hi.  Never heard of "xylitol " before.  Thanks for the tip.  I'll look into it.  I'm totally for natural means of keeping cavities away!  I don't know what the dentist would answer, but I think it's both genetics and poor hygiene habits.  The breastfeeding at night was not actually the problem, but breastfeeding along with eating before bed and not brushing teeth in between.  I guess I was thinking, "why brush their teeth, they're going to have milk right after that?"  So, they brushed their teeth very rarely.  I never really knew that the food, mixed with the breastmilk was what could cause it.  I'm still trying to nightwean, as there could always be little particles of food left that will mix with the breastmilk, as she doesn't brush her teeth very well yet and will hardly let me do it.  I don't know why they're on the front exactly, but I do know that sometimes when she's nursing she will look up at me and I see that she has milk in her mouth, so she doesn't swallow like she should.  Also, the worst decay is in the back.  Those teeth have almost rotten away and they may have to even be removed (she still has another set of molars to get, however).  Anyway, I just hope someone reading this will be more diligent about cleaning their babies' teeth and not just think that "they're babies, how could they have cavities so early."       

post #20 of 31

It's definitely good to warn people to check those little mouths!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dental
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Women's Health  › Dental › Warning: Nursing all night long can lead to cavities