Is Milk Bad for my Child’s Teeth?

young mother and kid pours milk into a glass

Milk is an essential calcium source for developing healthy teeth and bones and supplies carbohydrates and fats that provide energy and stimulates growth. For this reason, of course, milk is good for your child’s teeth. So how can milk be bad for teeth?

How Milk Can Be Bad for your Child’s Teeth?

Carbs in milk can cause tooth decay

The carbs in milk effectively break down into sugar and if left on the teeth for a long period of time can indefinitely result in tooth decay. We would expect this from fruit juice and candy, but with milk? The same principles apply. So as much as milk is good for your child’s teeth, it can also be bad.

Also read: How To Prevent Tooth Decay?

Bacteria from overnight milk can turn to plaque

A worst-case scenario is when a toddler is put to sleep with a bottle of milk in her mouth. It is understandable to resort to this kind of strategy when babies have trouble sleeping. However, when traces of milk are left in their mouths and on their teeth overnight, the bacteria in the mouth thrive in this ‘sweet’ environment and this deteriorates the teeth causing tooth decay.

Lactose can lead to tooth decay

To put it simply, Lactose is a form of sugar. And bacteria need this sugar to grow and invade healthy tooth structure.  In this case of extended nursing, it creates the ideal environment for this to happen to result in tooth decay. This phenomenon is a significant cause of tooth decay in 1-3 year old toddlers known as nursing caries or bottle caries.

How to prevent nursing caries?

In most situations of nursing caries, the treatment or even the removal of the “milk” teeth may be traumatizing for the child. Not only will the visit at the dentist’s office be a memorably painful experience, but going to school or the playground where all the other children have a healthy set of teeth may cause your child some insecurity.

To prevent such a situation, you should change the sleeping habit of propping a milk bottle into your child’s mouth. Of course, as with all habits, kicking this one may not be easy, but you need to find other strategies that will make your child sleepy instead of having them suck on a milk bottle all night.

To wean them from this habit, you could try substituting water for milk or form another habit by brushing or cleaning teeth before bedtime.

Brushing before bedtime and after breakfast should be standard practice for anyone of any age, and getting into these dental hygiene habits will be beneficial for a lifetime.

Related Post: Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome Their Fear of the Dentist

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