Does Breastfeeding Cause Tooth Decay?


It has been established without any doubt that breast milk is the best possible food for infants and babies, and as far as nutrition and protection from infections go, nothing can beat it. However there is one point of controversy in the whole ‘goodness of breastfeeding’ school of thought, and that is ‘does breastfeeding cause tooth decay’ or effect dental health?

Though it is frequently said that breastfeeding, especially at night, will cause tooth decay, a valid link has not been made between breastfeeding and cavities, like letting a baby sleep with a bottle at night can cause “baby bottle mouth”.

Dental decay in baby teeth was rare before bottles were used to feed babies and formulas as a substitute for mother’s milk were developed. Two dentists, Dr. Brian Palmer and Dr. Harold Torney, in their study of tooth decay in children, have done extensive research on human skulls from 500 to 1000 years old. Obviously these children were breastfed, and probably for an extended length of time. The two dentist’s research have led them to conclude that breastfeeding does not cause tooth decay.

One reason for night time bottles causing tooth decay is that the liquid stays in contact with the teeth for a long period due to pooling of the liquid inside the mouth. Whereas in breast milk, the milk doesn’t flow unless the baby is actively sucking. Moreover, breast milk enters the baby’s mouth behind the teeth, and, if baby is sucking, s/he is also swallowing. So the pooling of milk does not happen.

The cause of tooth decay is streptococcus mutans, a bacteria present in plaque. These bacteria combine with food sugars to form an acid which actually causes the decay. The bacteria streptococcus mutans thrives in a combination of sugars, low amounts of saliva and a low ph – level in the saliva. Some people are thought to have increased levels of these bacteria, putting them at a higher risk of tooth decay. After a baby gets teeth, s/he can get this bacteria from saliva to saliva contact with the mother or some other close relative or caregiver.

According to Dr. Brian Palmer, “Human milk alone does not cause dental caries.” Until recently, the only studies that had been done were the effects of lactose on teeth, not the effects of breast milk as a whole. Breast milk contains lactose or milk sugar which helps in causing tooth decay, but it also contains lactoferrin which actually kills the decay causing bacteria streptococcus mutans. According to an article published in ‘Paediatric Dentistry’ human breast milk is not cariogenic.

More studies by Dr. Torney has led him to conclude that under normal circumstances, the antibodies in breast milk will counteract the bacteria in the mouth that cause decay. But if there are small defects in the enamel, then the protective effect of breast milk is not enough to prevent decay due to the combined effects of bacteria and milk sugar. According to this research, a baby who is only breastfed and no supplementary bottle or even juice or solids are given to him/her, will not have tooth decay unless he is genetically predisposed, e.g. has soft or no enamel.

The conclusion of all this research seems to be that breastfeeding does not cause tooth decay.

5 Most Weird Beauty Treatments

Discover beauty using ‘unusual methods’! Listed below are the world’s five most weird beauty treatments.... ...

Halle Berry

Muscle Toning: Getting That Chiseled Look

Men generally like to build muscle, while women prefer to “tone” their muscles. Toning involves making... ...

Halle Berry

Ten Bed-time Beauty Tips

Wake up to a fresh and soft skin every morning by following these bed time beauty tips without fail. Taking care... ...

Halle Berry

8 Tips to Boost Your Fertility

Getting pregnant is a matter of perfect timing. The chances are in your favor that something is not medically wrong... ...

Halle Berry

8 Tips for Better Sleep When You’re Pregnant

Pregnancy can make you ga-ga over sleep. Those first few months, you can’t seem to stay awake. Even the... ...

DASH: Designed for Every Body

DASH: Designed for Every Body

Diets are a lot like fashion. Depending on the season (and which celebrity is currently obsessed),...

Dietary Help for Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Dietary Help for Iron-Deficiency Anemia

If you have been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor has likely advised you to eat...

Simple Swaps! Make Healthy Food Even Healthier

Simple Swaps! Make Healthy Food Even Healthier

Looking for easy ways to boost the nutritional value in your food? ...

Does Advertising affect Eating Disorders?

Advertisements are all around us. What we see impacts us in some or the other way.

How to Stop Online Shopping Addiction

How to Stop Online Shopping Addiction

In the age of electronics, there are many trends that turn into addictions....

Grocery Shopping Tips for College Students

Grocery Shopping Tips for College Students

College life is the most enjoyable part in one’s life but it also inculcates sensibility and ...

Skin Care »

  • Global Hand Washing Day

    Global Hand Washing Day

    The primary practice aim was mobilize people and transform handwashing from being just an abstract idea to an automatic ...
  • Pre School Hand Hygiene

    Pre School Hand Hygiene

    Children are very notorious and they can literally give a deaf ear to their parents when the latter ...
  • Personality Type Diet Plan

    Personality Type Diet Plan

    The Personality Type Diet has been crafted by Robert Kushner. He is a known expert on ...
Easy Way to Stop Smoking
Easy Way to Stop Smoking

Medical practitioners all over the world have been constantly appealing ...

Self Hypnosis Techniques
Self Hypnosis Techniques

A self hypnosis session requires a strong suggestion, proper relaxation and delivering ...

How to Tighten Loose Skin
How to Tighten Loose Skin

Loose skin is a common problem that a lot of women as well . ...

Careers in Speech Pathology
Careers in Speech Pathology

With a rise in speech-related problems in people, speech pathologists are in great demand

8 SureFire Tips on How to Lose Inches Off Your Waist Fast

Want to know how to lose inches fast?

The 2 Types of Knee Braces With Side Stabilizer
The 2 Types of Knee Braces With Side Stabilizer

Do you have a problem with your knees?...

RiRi
Is It Easy To Quit Smoking Forever?

How do I dare to say that it is easy to quit smoking? ...

Kids and Martial Arts Can Be a Great Match
Kids and Martial Arts Can Be a Great Match

All parents want their children to grow up healthy and develop discipline...

Don't miss

Take It Easy: Preventing and Treating Shin Splints

What are shin splints? Typically, shin splints cause pain or tenderness along the shin bone from inflamed muscles,... ...

Fit to a Tee: The Basics of Golf

Think golf is just a slow-paced game for businessmen in plaid pants? Think again – it might be worth taking... ...

9 Ways to Exercise When You Don’t Have Time

You know exercise can help improve your health and lose weight. Yet, 1 in 4 adults doesn’t exercise, according... ...

Naturally Thin Diet Plan

Are you naturally thin? Many people are not aware of this fact. However certain changes in your life can enhance...

How to prevent Diabetes in Seniors/senior citizens?

Senior citizens must take good care of their health in order to prevent diabetes. This may be done in the following...
Teens: Too Young to Pump Iron?

Teens: Too Young to Pump Iron?

Boys are bombarded by images of male models and movie stars that equate beefed-up, muscular bodies with male sex...
Pre School Hand Hygiene

Pre School Hand Hygiene

Children are very notorious and they can literally give a deaf ear to their parents when the latter ask them to...
How to Tighten Loose Skin

How to Tighten Loose Skin

Loose skin is a common problem that a lot of women as well as men face and is much more common amongst women than...

Skin Care Essentials for Men

Our modern men A metro sexual man is one who takes good care of his appearance by paying attention to the fine...