While it's well known that putting a baby to bed with a bottle of juice or milk is linked to tooth decay, some have thought that breast milk may actually have a protective effect. A new study in Pediatrics puts a rock in that theory.
The study finds sugar based beverages like colas and honey are the most likely to increase the risk of tooth decay, but breast milk came in at number three, and that's followed by cow's milk.
"Saliva doesn't flow as well at night and it doesn't have the opportunity to flush away the bacteria." says Dr. Rocio Quinonez a pediatric dentist.
Dr. Quinonez says the study doesn't mean that night breast feeding causes cavities, but that it likely does not protect the teeth either, and she says the take home message from researchers is that good dental hygiene is key for all infants. Especially those who have teeth and continue to nurse.
Also, family history plays a role in an infants risk of early tooth decay. So, it's recommended that if you were cavity prone as a child, then you should really keep a close eye on your baby's dental health.
The study was conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center and is published in the Journal Pediatrics. Researchers note that until now, there hasn't been any solid scientific evidence finding a possible increased risk of tooth decay linked to breastfeeding, the latest review of studies, published last year, failed to find a link. Also, the use of cola, sugar and honey should be discouraged in infant fluids.