Dentists and Breastfeeding

February 8, 2010 at 1:44 am 5 comments

In my opinion — in my humble opinion — pediatric dentists still have a lot to learn about the positive effects of breastfeeding, and must endeavor to find other causes for poor dental health in young children. “Bottle-mouth” is not synonymous with breastfeeding. Here is what I learned:

It seems pediatric dentistry lumps breastfeeding into the same category as bottle-feeding, pacifiers and sippy cups. This categorization ignores and generalizes important criteria. Whereas formula contains processed “foods” and imitation nutrition for babies and toddlers, breastmilk is the product of evolution and the human body, made specifically for the child borne to that mother. Breastmilk has strong bacteria-fighting characteristics that make it perfect for children. It is loaded with antibodies; antibodies that the mother has created throughout her life – as well as loaded with vitamins and minerals. In fact, when one questions how long breastmilk can stay at room temperature, on the door of a fridge, in the freezer, etc., that time frame is determined by the length of time breastmilk is able to fight bacteria.

A fantastic article at mothering.com, points out — as much of my research has — that breastmilk fights the very same bacteria that causes dental caries. What causes those dental caries seems to be most in question. It appears that pediatric dentists want to blame the breastmilk — and on-cue (on demand) night nursing. At the same time, as this article points out, the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentists) concede that breastmilk fights the very same bacteria. Add to this the suck/swallow action necessary to expel milk from the breast and these dentists have a weak argument. So what is it?

Although the cause of my son’s cavities was not as important a factor to me as stopping his teeth from getting worse, I could not help but feel offended when two different dentists told me it was from nursing. Would my body, meant to not only carry and birth my son, fail him when it came to nourishment? Would the very best food for him — a fact that science continues to prove everyday though mothers have known it for years — truly betray him when his teeth came in? I didn’t think so. Neither did dozens of articles and references to studies that I have encountered through online researching alone. What more would I find if I went to medical libraries and universities?

In talking about this question with a friend, she made a good point. It seems that these dentists, and often times other medical persons in positions of authority, have a difficult time with “I don’t know.” So they guess. Where they fail is that in their guessing, they are making mothers feel guilty for giving their children the very best start to a long life. Breastmilk is vital, nourishing, and undoubtedly the very best food.

After much pain (literally. My stomach and head ached for days after each appointment, but even more so after the second), I decided I would not have my son, at almost 17 months, be put to sleep in an outpatient surgery room and have four caps put on his four front teeth. Not only do I feel uncomfortable because he’s so little and there’s a risk of death with any anesthesia, but the dentists did not bother to 1) explore other reasons for his tooth decay; 2) explain the risks of leaving his teeth as they are; 3) suggest alternative treatments until he was at an age when I would be more comfortable. In short: they couldn’t be bothered. When I left, I felt not only stunned and offended and shut out, but I felt belittled, demeaned, and disrespected. Aren’t I allowed answers? Discussion? Possibilities? Explanations? Or am I to simply hear your verdict of four caps and $2500 and say “Okay, sure, yes, why not?” To make it worse, I asked about the procedure. Not only am I not allowed to be with him when they put him to sleep and put a tube down his throat , but he is not allowed to eat or drink anything, including water and breastmilk, after midnight. When I talked more to myself than to the hygienist and said, “He won’t like that,” she responded: “Close the door and let him cry.”

I was done with the dentist. (I did not mention that we bedshare).

I turned to the internet. Here’s what I found to slow the process of decay and maybe even, dare I say, cure it?

I learned first about a book called Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. I will not link it here yet because I don’t want to give it a straight-up endorsement so much as to just include it in my litany. To sum up, the basis of the book is to change your diet to that of a traditional diet — studied at length and in great detail by Weston A. Price, a dentist of the ’30s who studied various cultures around the world and how their nutrition/diets affected their teeth. What he found was that those peoples who lived off their land, eating animals (including their organs) and unprocessed dairy, oils, grains, etc., had the healthiest mouths. Those who were consuming all or part of a more westernized, processed diet, had obvious signs of decay — if they even still had teeth. (Because I have done a huge amount of research on diet that includes this one, I will not get into details just yet. Please stay tuned for future posts, however, because I really do have a lot to share about all of this). The gist I want to share with you now is this: the mouth needs a good pH balance; that means, it needs a specific ratio of calcium and phosphorous. Of good calcium and phosphorous (a quick Google search can show you how processed, pasteurized milk does not provide this good calcium as it is — what some might call — “cooked away”).

My search then took a turn. I sought other forms, a “quick-fix” form, of this pH balance. That’s when I learned about NovaMin, the brand name for a combination of Calcium Sodium Phosphosilicate. This combination has been shown, according to NovaMin, to remineralize teeth. From various discussion groups, reviews, etc., that I’ve read about the most popular brand of toothpaste to contain NovaMin (from what I’ve found), the results after using it are impressive. People report a complete turnaround; one person, and only one, reported pain when it came in contact with his teeth, but admitted he had severe sensitivity to even cinnamon, and that the pain subsided after more use. I immediately went to Amazon and ordered a 4 oz tube for $9.99.

I then found that the tube I bought (Oravive) contains sodium lauryl sulfate, a useless ingredient that only contaminates the body while tricking my mind into a “ooh, look, it works!” just because it suds up. So I wrote to Oravive, who must be directly associated with NovaMin because the reply was from a NovaMin rep and not an Oravive rep. I asked if they had a version of Oravive without the SLS in the works. They told me to check out Burt’s Bees new line of toothpaste; so I did and it was half the price!

I also learned that Xylitol has powerful bacteria-fighting properties. The sweet sugar-replacement, when one uses low doses (a toxic dose is considered to be 75 grams. That is a LOT of Xylitol), is effective in helping to slow the rate of decay in children. Therefore, I bought the Spry Infant and Toddler Tooth Gel.

My plan is this: brush morning and night with Oravive, and at midday, use the tooth gel.

But wait! I learned about something else. There’s a product I read about on the Yahoo! Group veryyoungkidsteeth (excellent source of information, support, and talk, and has real, live supportive dentists on the list. It is geared toward breastfeeding, attachment parenting women), called MI Paste. Apparently, it is only available from a dentist’s office, but NOT by prescription. Made from casein from cow’s milk, it is a topical solution to be put directly on affected teeth. It sounds like a miracle cure, if you ask me, though I have yet to procure a tube and have no idea of its cost. That doesn’t mean I won’t try, though.

My Amazon order should arrive by the end of this coming week. I will certainly work on dietary changes (what changes I will make is for another post); I will be diligent about cleaning my son’s teeth as well as my own, and I will watch him for signs of pain or infection. Breastfeeding is not to blame for this.

Since the dentists don’t want to hypothesize on other causes, I have a few myself. So without preamble (ha, ha), here’s my humble opinion: considering my son’s tooth came in with a tiny, brown dot on it right away, I surmise that the problems started when he was in the womb. I do not doubt my diet played a role. Furthermore, teeth tend to be very sensitive to problems when you’re pregnant. I already had cavities, but during and after, they became worse. Add to that the role of “new mom” and I was not the most hygienic person for the first 8 months or so. My son, to make it more complicated, put everything in his mouth. If he could reach it, it was in, so I was constantly fishing stuff out with my fingers. When he started drinking water from a Nuby sippy cup at 9 to 10 months old, the one small, brown dot on his tooth took on a life of its own and his other three front teeth were rapidly affected. I believe that there was a combination of pregnancy-diet, putting everything in his mouth, and bacteria from my mouth getting into his, that caused his dental caries. In fact, I think his teeth would be far worse if I weren’t breastfeeding and my milk weren’t fighting and killing bacteria that was already eating his teeth away. (I’m not sure if the tap water contributed, but I can’t ignore the connection, whether or not it is coincidence.)

I’ll let you know how the new plan works out. I’m excited to write more about my nutrition research. It’s leading me to some strange and interesting information. As time permits and goes by, I will be adding more detailed information including links to all the places I’ve visited in each subject. It’ll be a long list, but I’ll try to be orderly and detailed as I go about it. No promises – but we do our best.

IMO. IMHO.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lila  |  September 29, 2010 at 1:05 am

    hi, i couldn’t help but comment on your blog as i’m going through the same thing. although i went through with the surgery as my son was about to lose his teeth completly. if you wait too long and his teeth are dissolving than there is not enough tooth left for them to put a cap on. a note on the surgery you can breastfeed 4 hours before the surgery and give him water 2 hours before hand. i learned that on the la leche league site. of course don’t tell the surgeon that.

    i have also done research about breastmilk and decay. the conclusion that i’ve come to is the strep bacteria is drinking the lactose in the milk and then leaving the acid on the teeth. i guess only about 14 percent of breastfeeders have trouble with decay and those breastfeeders have high amounts of strep. and of course with less saliva to remineralize at night it all amounts to decay. although i think you are right about the sippy cup. my son’s decay rapidly progressed when i started feeding him crackers. so probably the nightfeeding is not entirely to blame.

    i read about someone who cured their decay with a combination of novamin and biotene. the biotene he took at night for saliva production and enzymes to destroy strep.(biotene makes a toothpaste for babies)http://www.biotene.com/Products/Toothpaste.aspx,http://www.just4teeth.com/Biotene-First-Teeth-Baby-Toothpaste he also mentioned in canada they’ve grown new teeth using ultrasound. http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/forum/archive/index.php?t-1309.html

    you might not want to take the sodium lauryl sulfate because i read it blocks the functioning of xylitol. also one study showed that xylitol gum remineralized 50% better when combined with calcium lactate. all i could find that had both was the spry xylitol candies, not the gum. i chop them in half and give them to my son, he sucks it until dissolved most of the time. the berry flavor is great.

    i can’t go the ramiel nagel route because on the spiritual path i’ve taken meat eating is strictly forbidden. although i’ve read about it and take natural sources of the nutrients required, including spirulina which has high beta carotene. i think you said you take the cod liver oil, which of course is highly beneficial, although i’m pretty sure you also need to take the pastured butter oil with it to produce activator X/vitamin K. they do sell a combination of the two online.

    also if you can find a laser dentist, it’s way better.

    read about jinni patel curing her kids decay with nano particle minerals.

    i’m currently trying to extract from the burts bees people how much novamin is in their products. good luck

    Reply
    • 2. crobinator  |  November 11, 2010 at 10:50 am

      Hi, Lila! Thank you so much for your comment. You’ve given me a lot of information.

      I completely understand the diet issue. I, myself, do not want to eat animal products (I was vegan for a few years, but have since started eating meat again). I aim for a whole foods diet for my family, and when we do eat meat, I try to stick to pastured, organic animals. This does not always happen but I do try my best.

      I have since stopped using the Burt’s Bees toothpaste, and I admit I did it without confirming what I was told: a poster on the veryyoungkidsteeth Yahoo! group wrote that the combination of ingredients adversely affects the pH balance, making it more acidic rather than more alkaline. However, I have stuck to the MI Paste every now and then, and now use Squigle’s Enamel Builder toothpaste (36% xylitol), and Spry xylitol “mints”. I will probably get some spry lollipops as well because my son has discovered the magic that is sugar and he loves lollipops.

      Since we had my sons teeth cleaned of the cavities and ozone treated, and filled with temporary fillings, he has had no decay. Unfortunately, the two teeth surrounding the two front ones are very small. We’re fine with this right now (some people note that he’s very cute with them like that), but may still look into crowns (if they’re able to adhere) when he’s older. It helps that I am friends with a woman whose now-ten year old son had no front four teeth until they started erupting this year. He’s a confident boy and his teeth never bothered him as he’s never met resistance. This may not be the case for everyone, but it makes me feel okay. For now. 🙂

      My son still loves the cod liver oil! And I have also read about the Vitamin K and activator X. Since his cavities have arrested and they have become hard, I haven’t felt the same urgency to buy the more expensive oils ($40 a bottle!), but I do try to have one a year so we can alternate between the two. Your comment urges me to continue.

      I must say: when my son got treated this summer with the ozone therapy, the dentist was really fantastic and gentle (and aside from ozone treatment and listening to his patients’ wishes – understanding, for instance, that I would not stop breastfeeding), he is very mainstream. But my son was scared and in pain for a full 15 minutes. It broke my heart. I’m in no rush to take him back after the re-evaluation (which went with flying colors and took less than a minute).

      Hopefully these preventative measures will eradicate any need for further work.

      Thanks again for your comments. They’re all very helpful. I’m sorry it took me so long to reply.

      Best of luck to you!

      Reply
  • 3. fdfdaf  |  November 11, 2010 at 12:33 am

    your kid’s problem with teeth started most likely with water flouridation… its called flouridosis, and babies get it via breastfeeding from mother who drinks flouridated water, then if baby drinks flouridated water the problems compound. Do the research

    Reply
    • 4. crobinator  |  November 11, 2010 at 10:33 am

      What you are referring to is fluorosis (not fluoridosis) and babies DO NOT primarily get it via breastfeeding. It affects the secondary, permanent teeth and in only very instances does it affect primary teeth. However, overexposure to fluoride at ages 3 months to 8 years (when primaries have erupted and secondaries are forming) is when those secondary teeth are absorbing the overabundance of fluoride and thus are susceptible to developing fluorosis. My son did not have fluorosis. Not only did three mainstream dentists confirm his issues were cavities caused by strep mutans, but all three treated him with fluoride.. Furthermore, the amount of fluoride that gets into the bloodstream and thus into breastmilk is minute – the breakdown and “filtering” system of the human body is quite complex and the antibodies in breastmilk are protectorants. In fact, a warning was released in 2007 by the CDC and ADA (as well as one in 2010 by the MSM) that fluorosis is on the rise in formula-fed babies because of the use of fluoride-based water in making the powder and being mixed with more water. If my water consumption is in question, our town water is not treated with fluoride and we still filter it. While pregnant, I drank primarily bottled water (most of which still contains fluoride, but at lower levels than treated water after distilling and filtering), and he did not have water directly until 9 months. His diet was 100% breastmilk, the best food for any human baby as it is made specifically to feed human children. Thank you for your comment. (one link to the warning; you can find many others with a search: http://www.ewg.org/node/21393).

      Reply
  • 5. Kevin Boyd, DDS  |  May 6, 2011 at 10:20 am

    whose wife wrote this? Brilliant and spot on!

    Kevin Boyd, Pediatric Dentist
    Chicago

    Reply

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