An article in the latest issue of Clinical Lactation looks whether breastfeeding contributes to dental caries in toddlers and young children.

Breastfeeding and Dental Caries: Looking at the Evidence
Valerie Lavigne, DC, IBCLC, RLC

Dental caries and prolonged breastfeeding still trigger much debate among professionals and parents. Some mothers are still being told to discontinue breastfeeding their toddlers because of cavities in the mouth. Parents often feel very discouraged and upset when they are forced to stop breastfeeding their toddlers. Dental caries is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood, and is a disease of multifactorial etiology. This paper reviews the literature on dental caries and breastfeeding. This review revealed that there was no conclusive evidence that prolonged breastfeeding increased the risk of early childhood cavities.
The author's conclusion was that there are many factors that contribute to cavities in toddlers, but breastfeeding alone does not appear to cause dental problems.

Some of the other factors are:
  • The levels of certain types of bacteria in the baby's mouth
  • Amount of exposure to sugary snacks and drinks, especially between meals and before sleep
  • Oral hygiene

She suggests focusing on a healthy diet and good oral hygiene as the best way to prevent toddler cavities.