Nursing a Toddler bad for teeth - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 12-10-2010, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been nursing my child on demand since almost 14months. He nurses a lot at night and often during the day. He eats small amounts of food.

 

Now, my sister is a dentist and she warned me about breastfeeding especially at night. She says it will ruin his teeth in no time, it is bad for the jaw, and from a dentists perspective a baby should never nurse that long ever. I should also mention, that we try to brush his teeth, but 75% of the time he goes in a full blown tantrum mode or clenches his teeth together. I sing songs, let him brush, and just wipe with a cloth, which seems to help a bit.

 

What is your experience with your toddler's teeth and on demand night nursing? Is it really that bad?

 

My parents seem to be on her side, and not only encourage me to night wean, but also think I am a nutcase for letting my child enjoy the nursing sessions. Now, they are coming over New Years for a ten day visit and I feel already pressured in having to hide our nursing sessions or at least restrict them. I guess, I would like to please my parents, I would like them to respect me, but I also don't want to cave and restrict nursing.

 

How do you deal with your relatives?


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#2 of 17 Old 12-10-2010, 01:27 PM
 
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For the dentist...

 

I spoke with a dentist and policy maker for Health Canada, and he said as long as you brush twice a day to break up the biofilm then nursing will not affect the teeth.  And it is actually GOOD for jaw development!  Here is a great site by a dentist: http://www.brianpalmerdds.com/caries.htm (warning, contains graphic photos and medical dissections of cadavars).  You sister is sadly misinformed.

 

And for relatives?  I like the "this is not open for discussion.  Please pass the bean dip" approach myself.  Although my dad, who used to be a 'stop nursing if they can talk' kind of guy, has been won over to 'breastfeed as long as they want' by my (nonstop) discussions of how great it is on so many levels.

 

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#3 of 17 Old 12-10-2010, 02:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post

For the dentist...

 

I spoke with a dentist and policy maker for Health Canada, and he said as long as you brush twice a day to break up the biofilm then nursing will not affect the teeth.  And it is actually GOOD for jaw development!  Here is a great site by a dentist: http://www.brianpalmerdds.com/caries.htm (warning, contains graphic photos and medical dissections of cadavars).  You sister is sadly misinformed.

 

And for relatives?  I like the "this is not open for discussion.  Please pass the bean dip" approach myself.  Although my dad, who used to be a 'stop nursing if they can talk' kind of guy, has been won over to 'breastfeed as long as they want' by my (nonstop) discussions of how great it is on so many levels.

 


yeahthat.gif

 

We know way too many dentists (seriously, 6 of DH's good friends are dentists) and they all say nursing does not cause cavities.  Some people are just prone to cavities.

 

Besides Dr Palmer's info, there is more research here -- http://www.kellymom.com/bf/older-baby/tooth-decay.html  that you could share with your sister.
 


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#4 of 17 Old 12-10-2010, 11:33 PM
 
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I had my dentist look at my 18mo DD's teeth just this past Tuesday while we were there for a visit. She doesn't like to let me brush her teeth, so (having bad teeth myself) I was worried she might have problems. He actually said he was proud of me for still bfing, and that as long as I can at least wipe her teeth once a day with a cloth or q-tip, that she whould be fine.

 

I tell the fam to mind their own.... Not their child, not their choice.

 

I hope the visit goes well <3


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#5 of 17 Old 12-10-2010, 11:58 PM
 
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I don't have a link to it, but there was a study done where they put a tooth in a cup of breastmilk and one in a cup of breastmilk with food. the one in plain breastmilk re-calcified, and the one in breastmilk with food decayed. so do try to clean the teeth before bed or after solids, but just night-nursing can actually improve a child's teeth. and the jaw development is good jaw development. it sounds like dentist is working with info that lumps bottle-feeding and breastfeeding together (a lot of the older info out there does). 


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#6 of 17 Old 12-11-2010, 10:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Marissamom View Post
 it sounds like dentist is working with info that lumps bottle-feeding and breastfeeding together (a lot of the older info out there does). 


This is my first thought also. 

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#7 of 17 Old 12-11-2010, 06:19 PM
 
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I would simply ask why she (the dentist sister) feels differently about this topic than the American Dental Association.

 

Here is one thing:

 

Study finds no association between breastfeeding and early childhood carries

http://www.ada.org/3143.aspx

 

 

Quote:
 Breastfeeding, especially for prolonged periods, has often been suggested as a potential risk factor for early childhood caries (ECC), despite a lack of supporting evidence for the claim. But a new study in the October 2007 Pediatrics1 should help to reassure nursing and expectant mothers, as well as pediatric dentists, since it found that neither breastfeeding nor its duration is associated with increased risk of early childhood caries.

 

It is especially bizarre that she would say that it could cause jaw development troubles since that is one of the things I have heard no one argue about--- breastfeeding is just 100% accepted as optimal for jaw/mouth development.  Since the study above (and others) specifically reference children over age one (or age two sometimes) they are definately not encouraging weaning before 14 months!

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#8 of 17 Old 12-11-2010, 06:21 PM
 
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Wanted to add this:

 

Quote:
 

Breastfeeding...

  • Promotes normal oral-facial development
  • Improves coordination of the mouth, lips, tongue and jaw muscles

 

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/normal/speech-development.html

 

 

 

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#9 of 17 Old 12-12-2010, 06:44 PM
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This is the study mentioned above:

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

http://umu.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:306593


 

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

 

 

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#10 of 17 Old 12-13-2010, 07:32 PM
 
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I think you've got plenty of evidence posted above so I will just speak to my experience. My DD night weaned at 28 mos (though continued to nurse to sleep for ages after that), until then she nursed at least a couple times during the night. When she was 14-18 mos she was what seems typical- did not like teeth brushing AT ALL. It was done daily, but I don't think any dentists would be praising our technique at all. To this day (turned 4 in the fall) she will not use toothpaste, so we just do water, though brushing hasn't been a problem for ages. By the way in the last 6 mos or so she went back to nursing to sleep many nights (after teeth brushing). She had her first dental visit recently and her teeth were perfect. Totally anecdotal, of course, but nursing had no negative impact at all clearly. 

 

As to how to deal with the relatives, really I think you need to set the tone as soon as they get there. You should not need to hide and feel self-conscious in your own home. I don't think respect = agreeing. They can respect you for doing things as you believe they should be done, regardless of how they'd do it. When it is brought up, let them know in no uncertain terms that it is not up for debate. You can explain that you would be happy to share research with them if they are open to info that doesn't support their views, but your house your rules. If they persist, refuse to engage. You could use a non-committal response such as "Huh, I'll take that into consideration" then change the subject. I also find that if you are dealing with someone who won't let it drop, just looking at them blankly as they go on and on will end the conversation. It is difficult to keep pestering someone if they will not argue. I don't know what sort of relationship you have with them, but I hope it's a good one if they are staying so long and if so, if you have to agree to disagree, that is fine too. Explain that you aren't doing this blindly, the research supports your views and if they and your sister read the research and come up with different conclusions that is their choice, but they need to stop getting on your case about it.

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#11 of 17 Old 12-15-2010, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I only got around now to read your answers last night. I am so relieved; I had started to feel guilty every time we nursed at night. Now, we brush teeth in the evening and then enjoy the night nursing again. I am glad that there is such a wealth of literature out there that links and studies breastfeeding and teeth. My sister is a young dentist (late twenties), I had tried to tell her, that her knowledge might be older, to which she got really offended; because how dare I, who did not study dentistry, claim to know or understand anything about teeth.

 

Anyways. I guess I hit a spot...

 

Kiwiva, thank you for you story. You made me realize, that my child is normal, yeah :)

 


 

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Originally Posted by kiwiva View Post

 

As to how to deal with the relatives, really I think you need to set the tone as soon as they get there. You should not need to hide and feel self-conscious in your own home. I don't think respect = agreeing. They can respect you for doing things as you believe they should be done, regardless of how they'd do it. When it is brought up, let them know in no uncertain terms that it is not up for debate. You can explain that you would be happy to share research with them if they are open to info that doesn't support their views, but your house your rules. If they persist, refuse to engage. You could use a non-committal response such as "Huh, I'll take that into consideration" then change the subject. I also find that if you are dealing with someone who won't let it drop, just looking at them blankly as they go on and on will end the conversation. It is difficult to keep pestering someone if they will not argue. I don't know what sort of relationship you have with them, but I hope it's a good one if they are staying so long and if so, if you have to agree to disagree, that is fine too. Explain that you aren't doing this blindly, the research supports your views and if they and your sister read the research and come up with different conclusions that is their choice, but they need to stop getting on your case about it.



Thank you for your words. I will print those out and read them daily. I just need to keep my calm. Family dynamics are strange I often get way to involved, when there is not point to it.


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#12 of 17 Old 12-15-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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I just clicked on here because I am dealing with tooth issues as well, and my kids' dentist has been saying the same thing (WEAN!  It's bad for their teeth).  Not one to follow the orders of authority figures, I just kept doing what I was doing.  Both kids bf on demand (not the 4 yo anymore) and are resistant to teeth brushing.  My four year old has beautiful teeth- no problems. 

 

However, I have a two year old who has some issues with his front teeth (starts of cavities- I feel like I've been kicked in the chest everytime I think of it).  There are two major differences between the two boys.  The older boy has visible spacing between all his teeth, but the younger's front teeth are tight together and food tends to get stuck.  The other difference is that I kept a pretty high protein/low grain diet until my first child was about 3.  Due to the convenience factor, quite a few more grains/sugars have made their way in.  Pasta, organic whole grain cereals, the occasional sweet bread- things that are quick and easy pleasers.  I made the decision last night, after yesterday's disasterous dental exam, that these foods are going back out.  I know in my heart that it is the food and not the breastmilk.  Just look at the info on Weston A Price, and it is clear that bf is great for teeth and cultivated grains are the problem.  If I had it to do over again, I would.

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#13 of 17 Old 12-15-2010, 09:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Veslemor,

 

a friend of mine and her kids had to deal with extermely bad teeth (probably genetic). She eliminated all white sugars, switched to whole weat, and they have never seen a cavitiy again for years. I am always impressed by her story, and at first it sounded strange, because she was so strict about her no sugar policy, but it seems to work for them. Just thought I share this story with you.

 

Another thing I learned it, that most kids (more than 50%) seem to have a cavitiy during childhood. I would feel bad as well, if my child got a cavitiy, but it also seems to be happening a lot.  


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#14 of 17 Old 12-16-2010, 07:13 AM
 
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Thanks Belltree for the info, and encouragement.  I have been on the lookout for info re: turning this cavity thing around.  My guy will be two in January, and the dentist wants to put him under to fill this thing, and I've been having a lot of anxiety about it.  Also just feeling really guilty that there's a problem in the first place, so it's comforting to know that so many others have tooth issues at young ages (ha- comfort at the bad results of others.  There's likely something not right with that.)  I think that hearing about your friend was the last nudge I needed to really clean up our food sources (and at such a great time of year to cut out sugar too....)

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#15 of 17 Old 12-16-2010, 10:56 AM
 
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No cavities here. And as far as I know there is no scientific evidence for your sister's claims. Just often reported claims for dentists. Really, I think it is just genetics because I know young children with a great diet and habits and brushing and lots of cavities.

 

Bottle mouth, however, is a real and documented issue.

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#16 of 17 Old 12-16-2010, 11:19 AM
 
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My daughter just got 4 root canals, which yes, I feel horrible about.

 

Bottom line: cavities are infections caused by bacteria (all dentists should know this!).  Where do the bacteria come from? Same place your colds, flu, stomach bugs, etc do - other people. Little kids pick up bugs!  If your child uses a utensil/drinks after/eats after a child/adult whose saliva contains bad bacteria, then, yes, they can pick up cavity causing bugs.  

 

Just like other bugs, some people are more susceptible than others.  My husband, for instance, has never had a cavity, and I have 10,000 worth of dental work. For the record, we've kissed quite a bit! :)  

 

What's the point of brushing? To help get rid of bugs, and food for the bugs to live on, just like we'd clean out any boo-boo.  This is why dentists recommend that you brush after eating, so that you can get rid of places for the bugs to live.

 

What do bugs live on?  Truly bad bugs tend to live on carbohydrates, e.g., sugars.  They can live on almost anything, though.  You can't stop eating, obviously, but you can minimize bug food.  Lo-carb diets help, but I'd worry about ketosis in littles.  Their kidneys and livers aren't as developed as an adults.

 

Why do dentists have issues with breastfeeding?  Well, compared to other mammals (e.g., cows), humans have high levels of sugar (carbs) in breastmilk.  When the child drinks breastmilk and then doesn't brush, in a dentist's mind, that's like drinking Gatorade and then taking a nap, leaving the bugs to do their work.  Of course, that's not all that's in breastmilk, but it can be an issue for a child like mine who has been exposed to bad bugs, and who has cavities already, with susceptible teeth.

 

We nursed at night until 2 1/2, when we weaned, and cut off all liquids except water. She never drank milk because she's lactose intolerant, and I always watered down her juice anyway, but we were trying to comply with the dentist's orders. We did that for 9 months, and it didn't help at all.  

 

The only thing that really can help is eliminating the source of the infection (e.g., cavity), cleaning as often as possible, and waiting for the teeth to recalcify.

 

You can't do Dr. Ellie's full routine with littles, but you can do this: http://askdrellie.blogspot.com/2010/03/baby-teeth-xylitol.html


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#17 of 17 Old 05-16-2011, 09:38 PM
 
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I know this is an old reread, but I had to thank everyone who posted the links! I took my 2.5 year old daughter to the dentist today. Her front teeth totally deteriorated, probably tied in with her (undiagnosed) special needs. The dentist just said it's from nursing and told me to night wean her. Now, I have researched night nursing, and had known it's totally different from bottle feeding, but I didn't have solid proof to quote to him. I will print out the linked articles and give them to him. I'm so happy that I have something tangible now, for him and for my mother who took his stance when I told her the issue.
I just have to make sure to brush my baby's teeth before nursing her to sleep!
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