Breastfeeding is the most beautiful activity between a mother and child. It creates a strong emotional bond between the two as the mother provides sustenance to the life she brought into the world. Not just that, breastfeeding provides the most nutritious food in the world for children; breast milk contains special enzymes that boost the immune system, setting the perfect foundation for physical health.
However, there are people who claim that breastfeeding and breast milk are causes of tooth decay; the little ones who are nursed the traditional way are more prone to developing cavities early, they say. But is there truth to this claim?
Can nursing cause tooth decay?
Here’s what people should understand: Foods play a part in tooth decay, and breast milk or even formula milk is food, so it may contribute to tooth decay.
According to pediatric dentists, though, breastfeeding and breast milk are never really the main problem, so it’s tricky to fully brand them as causes of tooth decay; other foods are actually bigger risk factors. They also point out that genetics are more to blame for cavities in young children; if parents have weak teeth, it’s highly likely that the little ones will suffer from dental issues as well, especially if appropriate oral hygiene is not carried out consistently.
Breast Milk actually has unique components that strengthen teeth against cavities; lactoferrin, which kills the Streptococcus mutans bacteria, is present in it. The only time breastmilk becomes a contributory element to children’s tooth decay is when it comes into contact with sugary and starchy substances. Studies reveal that breast milk combined with sugar is worse than sugar alone when it comes to tooth decay. Therefore, it’s imperative to make sure that there are no other foods in the baby’s mouth during nursing.
So, all in all, it boils down to proper oral care. Breastfeeding and breastmilk are not the problem; they just play a very tiny, even dismissible role in the issue. Parents should be consistent with twice-a-day (morning and night) cleaning of their young ones’ teeth — even if the little ones are mostly breastfed. Using a soft cloth or gauze dampened with water will prevent the buildup of minerals on the surface of children’s teeth.
Another important oral care practice to prevent tooth decay in children is for parents to avoid sharing spoons and forks with their children during meals because of bacteria transmission. Adult’s mouths have more bacteria and parents are placing them in the mouths of their children when eating utensils are shared.
Lastly, encourage the little ones to drink more water – this is a great way to clear their mouth and flush away decay-causing bacteria that may be present.