Intro

All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

New Study PROVES Breastfeeding Causes Cavities!

News headlines to cover this study include:
"The Breastfeeding Health Risk No One Talks About"
"Breastfeeding May Be Causing Your Baby To Suffer From This Common Issue Later In Life"
"Prolonged breastfeeding linked to higher risk of severe cavities"

"Toddlers who are breastfed have a higher number of fillings and decayed or missing teeth - because mothers are not brushing their teeth afterwards"

<Insert dramatic sound effect of your choosing here>

Mom.me continue with:
"Women who breastfeed may putting their babies at risk for something that's rarely on a newborn mother's radar: cavities. 
According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, despite the fact that breastmilk is nutritional AF (and 100 percent free of charge!), moms should be wary one of the common downsides, particuarly for those who nurse their babies well beyond their first 6 months. 
For the study, researchers analyzed breastfeeding behaviors and sugar consumption of 1,129 children. What they found was that kids who were breastfed for two years or longer were 2.4 times more likely to experience severe cavities than those breastfed for less than a year. 
The study's author, Dr. Karen Peres told CNN, “There are some reasons to explain such an association. First, children who are exposed to breastfeeding beyond 24 months are usually those breastfed on demand and at night. Second, higher frequency of breastfeeding and nocturnal breastfeeding on demand makes it very difficult to clean teeth in this specific period."
Perhaps Dr. Karen Peres isn't aware studies have found that whilst soaking a clean tooth in lactose (the sugar in breastmilk) results in caries, breastmilk as a complete substance doesn't.  And it seems barely anyone is aware of all the studies prior to this that found the opposite, including conclusions such as
  • "Human breast milk is not cariogenic [cavity causing]" Ericsson 1999
  • "No correlation found between caries and breastfeeding among children who were breastfed up to 34 month" Alaluusua 1990
  • "There is not a constant relationship between breastfeeding and the development of dental caries. Mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed as long as they wish."  Valaitis 2000
  • "Prolonged demand breastfeeding does not lead to higher caries prevalence" Weerheijm 1998
  • "Breastfeeding may act preventively and inhibit the development of nursing caries in children" Oulis 1999
Otherwise they'd have realised Dr Peres' explanation made zero sense.  But hey now, let's not let evidence stand in the way of a hefty dose of sensationalism.

Of course I had to get my hands on the original.

Within a few seconds I'd established an association a whole lot more plausible than that proffered by Peres.

The short answer?

Many Brazilian children don't brush their teeth properly and/or see a dentist regularly.
At age 5 years, 37.0% of the children had visited a dentist, and 45.7% still received assistance when toothbrushing. 17
Brushing should be assisted until children are 7.  Whilst many may be enthusiastic, dexterity to ensure all surfaces are adequately cleaned is required.  The NHS also recommend:

Take your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth appear. This is so they become familiar with the environment and get to know the dentist. The dentist can help prevent decay and identify any oral health problems at an early stage. Just opening up the child's mouth for the dentist to take a look at is useful practise for the future.
Remember the researchers  above concluded dropping a clean tooth into breastmilk didn't cause decay? They conversely found:
"HBM is not cariogenic in an in vitro model, unless another carbohydrate source is available for bacterial fermentation"
Carbs on the teeth + breastmilk causes decay.

This perfectly ties in with the presentations by Dr Brian Palmer who noted:
"There are 4,640 species of mammals, all of whom breastfeed their young. Lactose is present in most of the breastmilk of these species, yet humans are the only species with any significant decay in deciduous teeth. Modern Homo sapiens have been around for 30,000 to 35,000 years, but dental decay, however, did not become a significant problem until about 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Anthropologists believe the increase in decay was primarily due to the advent of the cultivated crops."
Now let's explore the typical Brazilian diet:
"Rice and beans is a staple of the Brazilian diet. They are usually eaten with a protein (meat or eggs), salads, farofa (a toasted flour of manioc or corn). The afternoon snack (merenda or lanchinho) is a small meal between lunch and dinner, and it could consist of coffee, tea or chimarr√£o, which is a traditional infusion of the South, accompanied by cookies, typical cakes or bread. Dinner consists of a light meal of soups, salads and vegetables, and pasta and rice-and-beans are the most common dishes."
Carb city.

 So in short, brush your teeth, see your dentist, encourage your toddler to snack on cheese instead of carbs (traditionally aged cheddar would be perfect) and breastfeed as long as you blooming well want.

Related Reading
Ask The Armadillo - Does Breastfeeding Cause Tooth Decay?

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