Can my child develop decay from nursing?
At Sporting Smiles, a child’s general health and well-being is our top priority. We support breastfeeding but also recommend that mothers take the steps necessary to prevent "nursing caries" from developing in their children.
Like the World Health Organization (WHO), our doctors recommend that moms exclusively breastfeed children for the first six months of life. At six months, other foods should be introduced and complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more.
Breast milk provides infants with all the nutrients they need for healthy development. The antibodies contained in breast milk help protect infants from common childhood illnesses. But it's important to recognize that breast milk also contains sugars similar to those found in the sweet beverages that lead to decay.
Our recommendation is to avoid nursing a child to sleep. If a child does fall asleep, simply wiping their teeth, gums, and tongue with moistened gauze, cloth, or a silicone rubber fingertip toothbrush can greatly reduce the chances of developing decay. We know for many new moms how tempting it can be to simply fall asleep as your baby does, but the fact is that the few moments it takes to clear away traces of milk from your baby's mouth can prevent a great deal of trouble in the future.
We also recognize that not every parent has the option of breastfeeding. If your child drinks from a bottle, the same concerns apply. Do not allow your baby to fall asleep with a bottle of formula, milk, or any other liquid. This also contributes to early tooth decay.