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Dental Caries: Tooth Decay Due to Breast Feeding

30 June 2014, Dabur Dental Team

Did you know that breastfed babies are more likely to have tooth decay? 40% of children breastfed between 6 and 24 months, and 48% of those breastfed after the age of 2 have tooth decay. It’s shocking, but true, that breast feeding may not always be the best thing for your infant. This is because when a baby is sucking from his mother's breast his teeth are sealed off. This prevents saliva from reaching them, which is a bad thing because it is saliva that breaks down bacteria and prevents tooth decay. Also, it is possible that breast milk in conjunction with excess refined sugar in modern foods may be contributing to the greater tooth decay.


It is important to maintain good habits for the baby’s sake right from the start. One of such dental care tip is to keep the baby’s mouth clean at all times. Simply wipe the mouth with a soft, dampened washcloth to remove all the excessive sugar from milk that has stuck onto the baby’s teeth. However what a mother should avoid is the baby sucking on her breast throughout the night as this leads to very little saliva circulation in the baby's mouth, which can increase the risk of decay. It is also important that the primary caregiver of the baby should also maintain good dental health because the bacteria that cause tooth decay in a baby usually come from her. Brushing/cleaning should be started the day the first tooth erupts in the mouth.

Some dentists recommend altering a baby's pattern of breastfeeding, reducing total number of feeds, and avoiding night time feeds. Professional dental guidelines also suggest avoiding on-demand breastfeeding after tooth eruption. It is also important to find the right age to wean a baby off breast milk. Your paediatrician can guide you here!

It is also important to clean your baby’s teeth after every feed so as to avoid the growth of germs in your child’s mouth. You must brush your baby's teeth as soon as they erupt with a small, soft bristle brush, or wipe with a damp washcloth.

Avoid saliva-to-saliva contact with your baby. This means that you should avoid sharing spoons, chewing food for your baby, or putting your baby's pacifier in your mouth. This is a healthy practice as this way you do not pass on the germs from your mouth to the child. Good dental habits will prevent dental decay. Overdoing of anything can be harmful in the long run. Always consult the baby’s dentist for helpful dental care tips and when your baby is old enough to use a fluoridated toothpaste (usually advised after the age of 4), choose a herbal one like Babool Toothpaste.

Learn more about the various causes of tooth decay and home remedies to get rid of cavities with Dabur Dental Care


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