Since dairy products are often considered healthy, it may be confusing to parents as to why they shouldn’t let their child sleep while nursing or with a bottle. First, it’s important to understand the chain reaction that occurs when your child falls asleep with milk in their mouth.
Milk gathers on the roof of their mouth and their tongue and bathes the front teeth in it when your child falls asleep. Since the flow of saliva is reduced during sleep, the milk is not washed away through the mouth’s natural cleansing process.
Milk contains sugar, which fuels the bacteria that collects in the plaque on your little one’s teeth. The bacteria feed on sugar and produce a by-product that is acid, which then works to break down tooth enamel.
With this process occurring while your child sleeps, it allows much more time for the acids to work and can cause rampant decay in your child’s small teeth known as “nursing caries.”
A good rule of thumb is to wipe your child's gums with a warm washcloth or brush their teeth after feedings and before bedtime.
If you have questions about nursing caries, feel free to contact The Pass Pediatric Dental Group for more information.