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    Nighttime Breastfeeding Does Not Cause Cavities

    Nighttime Breastfeeding

    Many new parents are often told that both breast milk and formula can cause early childhood caries, also referred to as ECC. A study, published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, has shown the differences in the dental health of infants who are breastfed and those who are formula-fed. Researchers examined 504 children, and took note of the way a child was fed (breast, bottle or both), feeding habits, the child’s amount of sugar intake, and the family’s background. Conclusions from the study state;

    “On account of its association with ECC, milk-bottle feeding at night should be limited,
    whereas prolonged breastfeeding appears to have no such negative  consequences.
    (Mohebbi, Virtanen, and et al 363-69)

    Parents are often instructed to not let their baby fall asleep with a bottle or fall asleep at the breast, as this can result in cavities and tooth decay. The first misconception that most parents have is that early childhood caries are caused by bacteria and sweet liquids being allowed to pool in the mouth, which results in sticky substances being left on the teeth. This belief is false, and the true result of early childhood caries relates to the parent’s dietary habits before conception, as well as the mother’s nutritional intake during pregnancy and after birth.

    An infant’s dental health is also affected by the type of diet the infant is consuming. Formula is a sweet substance that does not provide the necessary vitamins and minerals a child needs to build healthy teeth. Breast milk is the perfect food for infants, and it contains all of the necessary nutrients a baby needs to stay healthy.

    Anything that is overly sweet or sugary causes fluctuations in a person’s blood sugar levels. Over time, these fluctuations result in imbalances of the internal body chemistry. This, coupled with the fact that sugary or processed foods lack crucial nutrients, results in tooth decay and cavities. Therefore, poor dental health is not caused by bacteria or sticky substances being left on the teeth, it is actually a direct result of an individual’s nutritional intake. An infant needs certain nutrients during the critical stages of development, both in the womb and after birth, which makes it incredibly important for the expectant mother to consume the right types of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy and after the child's birth.

    Nature designed breast milk to be the best possible nutrition for infants and young children. Some studies even show that breast milk can inhibit bacterial growth and acid in the mouth. Children need to receive the best nutrition possible during the crucial stages of development, and that is human breast milk. Telling parents not to nurse their children at night, because it will result in cavities and tooth decay, is false and limiting breastfeeding at night could have a detrimental impact on the child's development.


    Mohebbi, SZ, JI Virtanen, et al. "Feeding habits as determinants of early childhood caries in a population where prolonged breastfeeding is the norm." Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology. 36.4 (2011): 363-69. Web. 20 Nov. 2011. <;.

    Photo Credit: myllissa (Melissa S) from Flickr

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I had several very painful cavities postpartum (after having twins) that kept me up all night in pain and made it so I could barely eat... After following the advice in this book accurately my tooth pain subsided within 24 hours and no longer hurt at all, my teeth also look nicer and my gums no longer bleed and are a nice pink color. - J. Steuernol, Canada

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