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Thread: Rotting Teeth/Breastfeeding over 2 years

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013

    Default Rotting Teeth/Breastfeeding over 2 years

    Hi, this question is for all mothers who breastfeed and breastfed their babies over 2 years and longer. To even 3 years or 4 years.

    This question is also for mothers who co-sleep with a toddler 2 years or over.

    i saw our pediatrician today and she asked if I was still co-sleeping, and if I was still breastfeeding and how much longer I plan to continue. And I told her for a while, I don't have plans to stop only if my daughter wants to.

    So then the pediatrician told me that breast-milk can rot her front teeth. That I need to brush her teeth after the last feeding which happens to be in a dark room while I'm trying to put her sleep. So basically she wants me after all that effort of winding her down while she is about to nod off to jump up turn the light on and take her to the bathroom to brush her teeth. So the whole thing of me breastfeeding her in my bed is not interrupted by something extremely annoying to both me and my daughter.

    So my question is has anyone had their dentist tell them that their toddler's teeth have rotted or are in the process of rotting due to breastfeeding?

    And my other concern is am i doing the right thing co-sleeping at this age and longer? Am I damaging her ability to learn to sleep on her own through the night by co-sleeping with her? Will she be able to transition to sleeping on her own?

    Thanks in advance I'm questioning my decisions. I know already talked about this before but now she is getting older and I need to know about breastfeeding toddlers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Rotting Teeth/Breastfeeding over 2 years

    Does your child have any evidence of dental decay? Does she have weak, stained, or pitted enamel? If the answers to those questions are all "no", then you almost surely do not need to worry. First of all, the sugars in breastmilk are not the ones which are associated with dental decay. Second, the mechanics of breastfeeding prevent problematic pooling of fluid in the mouth; when a baby is nursing, she must continue to swallow or the milk will stop flowing. This is unlike what happens with a bottle, which will continue to drip milk into the mouth even when the baby is no longer sucking or swallowing, resulting in a pool of sugary fluid forming in the mouth. The colloquial term for dental decay in a toddler is "baby bottle mouth" not "baby breastfeeding mouth" for that reason!

    The only exception to this rule would be if your child happens to already have signs of decay or weak enamel. If that is the case, it might be a good idea to limit night nursing, and to have the dentist take some action to prevent/halt decay, for example putting a flouride paste on your child's teeth.

    If you're concerned, you could always stay in bed after nursing, and wipe down your child's teeth with a clean wet washcloth.

    Has your child been to the dentist yet? My kids' dentist wants them in for their first visit around 18-24 months. If you do go in, I recommend that you don't mention that you're nursing. Dentists tend to be even more poorly informed about night nursing than pediatricians are.

    There's no reason to think that co-sleeping is in any way inhibiting your child's independence or the development of normal sleep habits. Your child will move out to her own sleep space when she's ready. The only problem with co-sleeping is that it can get old for mom and/or dad long before the kid decides to sleep in her own bed- in which case you can feel free to take steps to change things. But no need to force the process if everyone's happy with a family bed!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: Rotting Teeth/Breastfeeding over 2 years

    And here is a recent study that supports the lack of relationship between extended breastfeeding and dental caries: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22725605

    Your sleeping arrangements are also entirely up to you. That's parenting advice, not medical advice.

    If you feel like you have a good relationship with your pediatrician otherwise, I'd just politely ignore the bad advice. Or, if you'd like to discuss it further with your doctor, print out some solid, reliable research off of PubMed and bring it in with you to the office! I have a really good relationship with my family doctor, and I have actually done this (unrelated, non-BF issue). Sometimes even medical professionals need information updates!
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Default Re: Rotting Teeth/Breastfeeding over 2 years

    Totally agree with PPs.

    If you are still worried google for pictures / drawings / diagrams of where in fact your nipple is inside the child' mouth. Amazingly far inside.
    There is no way for anything to "pool" in there as from a bottle.

    My son, now 5, has nursed to sleep most nights, until this past October. We still cosleep most nights, some nights he goes off to his own bed in the middle fo the night. He stopped nursing to sleep on his own about 4 weeks ago and says he will stop sharing my bed when he turns six.

    Also I agree with PP - even if you get along great with the pediatrician, cosleeping is not a medical issue and there is no need to discuss it. It is hard to evade the direct question but I try to keep my answer vague. My son has coslept all his life, and I am glad he still does and as he has his own bed next to mine he can move there whenver he wants to and does.

    This is by far the best resource on cosleeping i know of:

    You are not ruining her ability to sleep but provide her with the safe environment to enjoy sleeping and going to sleep. As she grows it will not always be easy but i found it worthwhile to work on solutions to some of the problems rather than give up or give in to well meanign advice

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Rotting Teeth/Breastfeeding over 2 years

    nursed to sleep, co-slept, nursed for years- kids are now 7 & 10 & no cavities. & they are excellent sleepers.

    Some babies/kids who nurse at night get cavities and some do not. just like general population.

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