Is artificial milk harming your baby’s teeth?

This post was written by Zeno Casentini, Timm Schneider, Sophia Sideris and Anastassia van Heule, second year dentistry Students at CEU Cardenal Herrera University

The effect of synthetic infant formula on the Baby‘s oral hygiene in comparison to breastfeeding.

Dental caries is not the only biggest oral problem in the world today, but also an increasingly topical danger for children. According to the
WHO, there’s increasing evidence regarding the diagnosis of an acidic oral flora in younger children. Why?

The following blog will discuss the consequences of infant formula on developing teeth, in
comparison with breastfeeding.

Carbohydrates used in formula are mainly lactose and sucrose. Sucrose is considered to be
the most1 cariogenic dietary carbohydrate fermentable by the oral bacteria. The acid tolerance property will allow cariogenic bacteria to disturb other acid sensitive bacterial species, which would then lead to the development of the acidic bacteria and will
continue the acidification process of the dental caries.

The following video discusses the biology behind the development of tooth decay in the presence of sucrose2 (
This process results in reduction of pH in the oral cavity causing dental caries. It also acts as a substrate for the formation of extra and intracellular polysaccharides in dental plaque3. These biofilms have more cariogenic content, however lactose is less fermented by S.mutans as compared to sucrose.
Breastfeeding, what we call “the natural way”, of feeding and providing all nutritive benefits for the healthy growth of your baby. Breastmilk consists of antibodies that may help reduce the development of bacteria. Lactoferrin, which is a protein in breastmilk, targets S. mutans and kills them. S.mutans may not be able to use lactose, the sugar found in breastmilk, as easily as sucrose that is found in some

So what is a better option for your child? As we mentioned above both types of milk are very different in composition, one is a genetically altered milk that is quick and easy while breastfeeding is a more natural way of feeding. As mentioned above infant formula consists
of sucrose which is one of the leading causes for caries in today’s day and age. On the other hand 4Breast feeding may contain properties which reduce the development in carriers, this is only one of the reasons why breastfeeding is so important. 5Breast milk sugar primarily comes from lactose while infant formula contains additional sucrose to the already present lactose contents, making it high in sugar content.
Bottle feeding which is the way we deliver infant formula to a baby or even sometimes breastmilk can actually play a part in carie development. The problem with bottle feeding is that the milk is directly delivered to the front of the teeth while in breastfeeding
the milk is propelled into the throat. Another factor contributing to the harm of bottle feeding is time of day. 6When an infant is sucking on a bottle at night to go to sleep the milk actually will keep leaking into the child’s mouth. This causes a longer exposure to the formula, keep
in mind direct contact with the high sucrose levels in infant formula and prolonged exposure would not be the best option for keeping your baby’s teeth caries free.

1 Dental Caries – StatPearls. (2021, October 6). NCBI. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from

2 (Tooth Decay and Cavities – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Pathology, 2019)

3 Effect of Infant Formula on Streptococcus Mutans Biofilm Formation. (n.d.). PubMed. Retrieved December 4,
2021, from

4 Breastfeeding Vs. Formula – Which Is Better For My Child’s Teeth? (n.d.). Big Picture Pediatric Dentistry.
Retrieved December 4, 2021, from

5 Infant Formula and Early Childhood Caries.

6 Breastfeeding and tooth decay | Australian Breastfeeding Association. (n.d.). Australian Breastfeeding
Association |. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from


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