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  • Writer's pictureDr Shifa Shamsudeen

Does Breast Feeding Cause Cavities?

Am here in my training miles away from home., and I have no choice but put this as priority to write this blog.

A hurt and depressed mother reaches out to me with a trembling voice saying “ I took my 1 year old to the dentist because he had some stains on his front tooth, they are STRONGLY recommending me to stop breastfeeding” !!!!

It’s so disheartening and painful to hear few medical professionals advice mothers stop breastfeeding for various reasons like., after 6 months they don’t have nutrients , it causes dental decay, etc.,

Studies done on pre-historic skulls showed no signs of cavities , or malocclusion and back then children were breastfed as long as they wanted to feed (some data says till the beginning of eruption of permanent teeth)

Dental cavities/decay is an infectious communicable disease and has multiple risk factors associated in its development few are

· Socioeconomic status

· Maternal nutrition

· Hygiene

· Oral restrictions

· Bacteria

· PH of saliva

· Tooth quality

· Diet

· Swallowing patterns

Why is breastfeeding needed ?

Uncompensated – Extended – Exclusive breastfeeding (minimum till 2 years of age WHO) is an essential process to ensure an optimal craniofacial maxillomandibular growth. In simple terms breast is the first functional appliance ( appliance used to straighten teeth and develop proper airway). Breastfeeding stimulates the muscles around the head and neck, it prevents muscular dysfunction ( if non compensated). Breastfeeding stimulates the face and neck to grow downward, wider and forward which helps the child get straight teeth and healthy airway naturally.

So what can you do as young mothers?

Prenatal- ensure your Vitamin D levels are upto standards. There is a strong correlation on maternal nutrition and children’s teeth quality.

Post natal – Exclusive Extended breastfeed till 2, visit a Preventive Pediatric Dentist for anticipatory guidance ( preventive Councelling) as soon as the first tooth erupts ( ensure they are breastfeeding friendly). Do not wait for symptoms to occur.

Watch out for white spots on teeth from time to time , this is the earliest stage of developing cavities and can be reversed with hygiene and preventive practices , without need for invasive procedures.

Prevention is always less invasive and cheaper than cure . However if you are at a stage beyond prevention and were told to stop breastfeeding…, PLEASE LOOK OUT FOR A FUNCTION FOCUSED, BREASTFEEDING FRIENDLY PEDIATRIC DENTIST, PEDIATRIC DENTIST WITH EXPERTISE IN THE ROLE OF MUSCLE FUNCTION ON CRANIOFACIAL DISEASES (including cavities). Or in simple terms a professional who not just treats symptoms of disease but also corrects and optimises the real causes

-Dr.SHIFA Preventive Pediatric dentist

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