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DS's tooth is decaying from nighttime breastfeeding, says my dentist today - he will need to go under general anasthetic to have it fixed. HELP! I need support

(60 Posts)
RoRoMommy Mon 13-Oct-08 17:05:18

See this thread about 18m old DS's broken tooth, which has started to chip and crack away. Two of his other teeth have brownish/gray spots on them.

I went to see a dentist today and he says that DS's cracked tooth will need treatment, and because DS is 18 months old he will need to go under general anasthetic to have the procedure done. Two of his other front teeth will also require restorative work because of the decay.

The decay is, according to the dentist, due to my continuing to feed DS at night, on demand. He said that breastmilk is sugary and pools around the front teeth at night, and since there is little saliva production at night to protect the teeth, it has a remarkable detrimental effect.

I am completely gutted. Aside from the fact that my son will be subject to powerful drugs designed to make him unconscious, then will have to recover from the procedure to his tooth, the whole thing is going to cost over 2000 pounds.

And ON TOP OF ALL THAT, everything I've heard on this site, and in articles, and magazines, about breastmilk being this miracle liquid that actually has compounds in it to protect a child's teeth, I am now faced with the reality that, in my case, this is not true. My breastmilk is causing my child's teeth to literally fall out of his mouth.

Oh, and now I get to night wean. Fun fun.

I am so upset and confused. I will get a second opinion, of course, but time is of the essence as every day that goes by the nub that was my son's tooth gets smaller and smaller, and the damage gets steadily closer to the nerve, and his developing adult tooth.

WAAAAHHHHHH! Fuck fuck fuck.

Pardon the outburst. Has this happened to anyone else? Could someone please tell me I am not a rubbish mother?

PuzzleRocks Mon 13-Oct-08 17:07:00


Please can somebody refute RoRo's dentists claims as I am still feeding DD at night too. Anyone?

CarGirl Mon 13-Oct-08 17:17:37

I would think there is a genetic predisposition for this kind of decay to happen unless of course he is being fed lots of acidic fruit, fruit juice & sugar laden food and perhaps over brushing teeth?

hanaflower Mon 13-Oct-08 17:19:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Notanexcitingname Mon 13-Oct-08 17:28:35

OK, this is in a rush, and so not referenced...

Rates of Tooth decay correlate much much better with refined sugar consumption than with nighttime nursing, both historically and culturally (ie, tooth decay and sugar appeared at the same time in historical human remains, if you look at tribes where night nursing is common, no tooth decay until sugar appears on the menu).

Secondly, the antibacterials in breastmilk kill the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Yes, breastmilk contains sugar, but nature neatly provided us with an antidote

Thirdly, the act of breastfeeding does not allow milk to pool at the back of the mouth, it directed to the back, with little pooling. Unlike bottles, where milk DOES pool

Fourthly, tooth decay (or more accurately the mouth flora that cause it) is heavily genetic

Fifthly, breastmilk in combination with food is aggressive to teeth. So inadequate bedtime brushing isn't good

Sixthly, dentists know bugger all about breastfeeding, in common with many HCPs angry

PuzzleRocks Mon 13-Oct-08 17:29:21

Thank you notanexcitingname.

CarGirl Mon 13-Oct-08 17:30:34

I have had loads of teeth problems I have very slender teeth with weak enamel etc etc my dentist has said it's all heavily genetic.

I take it you are not in the UK if you have to pay for his dental treatment!

SuperSillyus Mon 13-Oct-08 18:12:08

That is awful. shock I'm still breastfeeding my 19 month old who has chipped teeth. My ds2 who is 3 has the worst teeth though and he had to go on antibiotics from birth for 6 weeks and I wonder how much damage that did.

Can you get a second opinion? It seems very extreme and I would be very upset to be told that too.

Dr Jay Gordon has a system for night weaning.

TheBlonde Mon 13-Oct-08 18:19:43

Are you seeing a private dentist?

NHS dental care for kids is free

I didn't think they did restorative work on baby teeth

TheBlonde Mon 13-Oct-08 18:20:50

Also if my kid was having a GA I'd be going to an NHS hospital for it not a dental office - no offence to private dentists

RoRoMommy Mon 13-Oct-08 19:41:49

Thanks everyone.

First, yes, we have a genetic predisposition to bad teeth, both me and my husband, so there's something in that.

Second, no he does not eat overly sugary foods. The most sugary thing he gets is fruit, and perhaps fruit yogurt. He doesn't eat sweets, and he doesn't like juice.

Third, yes we are going to a private dentist, as I have heard that the NHS party line is not to treat baby teeth, but there are all kinds of things that can happen if he doesn't have this taken care of: the decay could get into the gumline and cause intense pain, it could reach to the soft tissue where his adult teeth are forming and do permanent damage as well.

Fourth, I didn't have any antibiotics whilst pregnant, but I did have some when he was four months old for mastitis, I wonder if this could have had some impact?

So, yes, I am in the UK, but I called three (THREE!) NHS dentists today and all three said they wouldn't work on a child under three. So how is that an option? It's very frustrating.

Oh, finally, yes, the GA is going to be administered at the Portland Hospital.

TheBlonde Mon 13-Oct-08 19:45:20

Maybe your GP can refer you to the dental clinic at one of the NHS hospitals as an alternative

RoRoMommy Mon 13-Oct-08 19:46:47

Not a bad idea, TB, definitely worth a try (except we're between GPs at the moment...another thing I need to get on top of)

TheBlonde Mon 13-Oct-08 19:51:51

guys and thomas' dental care - worth a shot

singingtree Mon 13-Oct-08 20:03:33

Oh you poor thing. That sounds like really bad luck. You are not a crap mother, I breastfed my son at night until that age and his teeth are fine, I really do think you've been unlucky. Fwiw I night weaned my son when he was about 18 months in an attempt to get him to sleep a bit better and he accepted it pretty easily so it might not be as bad as you think.

GreenMonkies Mon 13-Oct-08 20:03:41

I would like to second everything that notandexcitingname has said. It is utterly untrue that night time nursing causes tooth decay, it is much more common in non-bf babies/children. Breastmilk does not pool at the font of the mouth, it is delivered to the back and swallowed.

Get hold of a copy "Breastfeeding Matters" by Maureen Minchin, she covers tooth decay and breastmilk in one of the chapters, once you have read it, take it to your dentist and show him how wrong he is. There is lots of evidence about bottlefeeding caries, but none about breastfeeding caries. hmm As usual nightfeeding with bottles has been lumped into the same category as night feeding at the breast, despite the fact that the two are totally different! angry

If night feeding caused teeth to rot then our ancesters would have had no teeth past the age of two, as they all were breastfed, even at night, right into thier "pre-school" years, and didn't brush thier teeth. Archeological records show that actually the opposite is true. (see this, it's not about tooth decay, but interesting all the same)

You may decide to night wean any way, just to be on the safe side, but don't feel you have to.

chipmonkey Mon 13-Oct-08 22:59:06

RoRo, just to give my own family history. My brother was bf till he was 3 including a lot of night feeding. He had a lot of trouble with his teeth, all the front ones had rotted by the time he was 5. If my Mum had asked the dentist about it he probably could have blamed the bfing. Except that my sister also had very bad teeth even though she was only bf for 9 months!
My own ds3 was bf till 2.8 and he has absolutely perfect teeth.

In my brother's case I am convinced that the milky sugary tea my Dad gave him all the time was far more to blame than bfing.

weasle Tue 14-Oct-08 06:54:41

hi roro. we had a teeth problem - my dh slipped over on his bike with ds1 on the back in a bike seat and knocked his front tooth out, another one was so badly damaged he had to have a GA to have it extracted. this was at 19/20 months. dh was so upset, but the actual GA was over in a flash.

It was done at Guys and they were excellent. I would strongly recommend an opinion from one of the big dental hospitals about this matter if you are in london. Guy's, the Royal London, UCH (the Eastman institute), not sure where others are but sure Marys have one if you are over that way.

Dentists will know nothing about bf by the way. Dh's family are all doctors (inc me) and dentists and we were all totally ignorant about it until i had my boys! good luck.

SofiaAmes Tue 14-Oct-08 07:35:25

We used to go to a lovely nhs dentist who was happy to treat children. I'm sure I started bringing them to her long before 3. Her name is Dr. Shah and she is in NW10.
I would get double and triple advice before putting your child under general anaesthetic. That's a major risk in exchange for perfect teeth.
Please go and see some experts who do not have a vested financial interest in doing lots of work on your child. As weasle suggested go to one of the dental hospitals.

liath Tue 14-Oct-08 08:03:15

If a private dentist told me my child needed 2 grand's worth of treatment I'd smell a rat TBH, no disrespect to dentists but my mum tells me that I had a lot of unecessary work done to my milk teeth when I was very young which an NHS dentist subsequntly told her wasn't needed at all.

2manychips Tue 14-Oct-08 09:32:32

Go with theblonde's advice. Get a referral to your local dental clinic or a hosp,you can ask your dentist to do this,dont be afraid to tell him/her if you cant afford it.Def need a 2nd opinion.

ComeOVeneer Tue 14-Oct-08 09:48:10

Without seeing the patient and being a dentist there is a lot of dentist bashing going on here. Surprisingly enough some of us do know about breastfeeding and aren't all money grabbing evil doers!

In ref to the OP, BFding isn't terrible for teeeth. The truth is at night saliva production does decrease significantly, so it is best to have nothing other than water after cleaning teeth, as there are "sugars" in breast milk.

It isn't true that breast milk totally kills of bacteria in the mouth (it helps but if that were true by now that would have been harnessed into some sort of miracle treatment grin). However compared to other foods/methods of feeding etc it isn't high on the list of "bad" things.

The nhs do not have a policy of not treating baby teeth, that is utter rubbish. The situation is carefully evaluated and the treatment decided is based on what is in the best interest of the patient both now and long term and the emmotional inpact is taken into account.

No dentist can carry out a GA in their surgery, that has been the case for many years now, it has to be done in a hospital/clinic environment with an anaethetist and properly trained staff/equipment etc.

The GA is very mild and short lasting, it really is a much kinder way to treat young children. No way could you expect a toddler to remain still and co-operate in the chair.

I would for peace of mind get a second opinion and try to find a way of getting this treatment on the nhs (although these days that is tricky since the government ballsed up the reform a couple of years ago).

Finally do reevaluate your childs diet and oral hygiene measures. There are a lot of hidden sugars in foods, have a good look at labelling, you'll be surprised. If you child is genetically more likely to suffer dcecay it is vital you accept that and act accordingly.

Don't beat yourself up over this, you haven't done anything wrong and you are not a bad mum. However now is the time to act to prevent further problems. HTH

Zazette Tue 14-Oct-08 09:53:06

It's completely untrue that the NHS won't treat baby teeth. Maybe you should investigate things for yourself rather than relying on ill-informed word of mouth.

Twiglett Tue 14-Oct-08 09:55:57

experienced Mother here .. DS had insufficient enamel on his baby molars .. fillings from the age of 2, 4 extractions and a cap at the age of 6 (under GA) ... under NHS

in our case it was just bad luck ... accompanied by the evil of FRUIT

DS is a fruit fiend

all very healthy fresh fruit

killing his teeth as he munched constantly

now he has all his fruit at mealtimes, when he has a fruit snack he has a lump of cheese after to neutralise it .. no brushing immediately after eating (wait half hour to hour)

Based on the dental advice you have been given you just need to accept that your child (children) cannot have night-time milk and night-wean him ... much as I have had to accept that 'no you can't have more fruit' is a parenting mantra in our house

why can't they just remove the baby teeth? why does it need restorative?

hanaflower Tue 14-Oct-08 12:14:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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