I’d say that most people know that putting kids to bed with a bottle of milk will cause tooth decay but what about older babies and toddlers who fall asleep at the breast?

My daughter is the most gluttonous of all my children at the breast. She refused solids at all until 10 months old. We co-slept (as I did with one other of my 4 kids) and she was literally attached to me all night, suckling off and on. At 22 months, she still falls asleep in our bed, “boob-n-snoozing” for a few hours until I move her to bed. We brush her teeth before bed and every morning, but, I wonder if I should more aggressively try to “break the seal” for the sake of her little pearly whites?

To be clear, I’m asking if there’s any research or evidence that breastmilk is as bad as any other milk at night for teeth, or if it’s the delivery method, the bottle that causes a problem? I’m not asking for advice about breaking her nighttime feeding habit per se, as we are both happy with our arrangement (for now) but if it’s bad for her teeth I’ll just interrupt the suckling and stick with snuggling. :)

  • Early Childhood Carries (ECC) is a multifactorial problem, not just extended exposure to formula or breastmilk. Is she receiving fluoride in any of its multiple forms (toothpaste/drops/varnish/etc.)? Jun 15, 2018 at 4:03
  • Yes, we use a flouride toothpaste. Boy does she get mad at me when I won’t let her eat it!
    – Jax
    Jun 22, 2018 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


Breastfed Babies Can Still Get Cavities

It’s one of the most common questions nursing mothers ask: Can breastfeeding cause cavities? Yes, it can. Although natural, breast milk, just like formula, contains sugar. That is why, breastfed or bottlefed, it’s important to care for your baby’s teeth from the start. A few days after birth, begin wiping your baby’s gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth every day. Then, brush her teeth twice a day as soon as that first tooth emerges. Use fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice.

Taken from: Breastfeeding and Dental Health - American Dental Association

So the answer is yes, it can damage the teeth as well and you should take care of them, but then again, I wouldn't be to worried, clean your toddlers teeth regularly and it will be fine. Waking your kid up again just for cleaning the teeth isn't necessary.

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