Is there a link between breast feeding and tooth decay

categories: Practice News

Breast feeding

Breast milk is said to be the healthiest and most natural way of helping babies develop strong immune systems and support physical and emotional growth.

However, a new dental health study claims that children breastfed beyond the age of two years are at higher risk of developing tooth decay.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay is caused by the bacteria Streptococcusmutans, which is found in plaque. When combined with sugar from food or drink, the presence of S. mutans results in acid production, which gradually rots the enamel. The bacteria are usually transmitted via saliva to saliva contact, for example by sharing spoons or kissing. Other factors linked to tooth decay can be divided into genetic factors, maternal factors and environmental factors.

Genetic: Enamel defects can be inherited from parents, which may leave babies at higher risk of tooth decay.

Maternal factors: smoking, stress or illness during pregnancy can have an effect on the risk of tooth decay in young children.

Environmental factors: Sugar in food and drink is the number one cause of tooth decay, so avoidance of sugar is the best protection against dental caries. Poor oral hygiene and conditions that reduce saliva production also speed up decay.

Once your baby’s teeth start coming through, it’s a good idea to brush your child’s teeth twice daily and get into a habit of encouraging them to drink water after meals to wash away any leftover food particles. Decay is directly related to the amount of sugary substances that your children consume. Avoid too many sugary and sticky foods by making sure that child has a healthy diet, which includes lots of fruit and vegetables.

If you would like to find out about fluoride supplementation, speak to one of the team at your next appointment or give us a call.