There’s nothing quite like a glass of milk before you head off to bed. For kids, milk can be a healthy, soporific beverage to consume before sleeping, preparing them for yet another big day. But drinking milk before bed may actually harm your child’s teeth in the long term.
In this post, we’ll talk about the benefits of drinking milk before bed, as well as some of the disadvantages of doing so. Next, we’ll talk about how you can mitigate these disadvantages so your kids can continue to enjoy their bedtime beverage.
Drinking Milk Before Bed
Milk is a healthy, natural beverage that serves as a great source of nutrients for your child’s growing body. It’s rich in calcium, providing around 300 milligrams in a single cup. Also, milk is a great source of carbohydrates, fats and protein – in particular, milk contains slow-digesting casein proteins that provide the building blocks for your child’s body as they sleep.
And the benefits don’t stop there – milk contains certain compounds such as melatonin and tryptophan. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body that regulates sleep cycles, while tryptophan is an amino acid that is vital in the production of serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter with positive effects on mood and relaxation.
Milk can provide a calming ritual for children as they prepare for bed, too.
So with this wide array of benefits, what’s not to love about milk?
Where’s The Harm?
It’s important to understand that the harm caused my having a glass of milk before bedtime depends on whether you drink it before or after brushing your teeth.
Why? Well, milk contains lactose, which is a sugar that gives milk its characteristic taste. However, if you’re drinking milk after you’ve brushed your teeth for the night, you’re allowing the residue from the milk to sit on the interior surfaces of the mouth.
Every human mouth contains a normal amount of bacteria that you keep under control by brushing and flossing. These bacteria feed on sugars and other food residue inside your mouth, especially as you sleep. As the milk sugars linger inside your mouth, they’re fed on by bacteria that can multiply and cause cavities and tooth decay.
Bacteria can produce acids that can dissolve tooth enamel, particularly if your child has baby teeth. Dental plaque, a mixture of bacteria, food residue and saliva, can build up on your child’s teeth. This plaque can accumulate over time and cause gum disease.
So, what should you do?
Conclusion: How To Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy
Have your milk before you brush your teeth for the night. The best way to reap the benefits of a nighttime glass of milk and your oral hygiene routine is to not eat or drink anything after you brush your teeth. This allows you to remove all food and bacterial residue from your mouth before you head to bed.
If you have any more questions about milk affecting your child’s dental health, contact us! At Kidz 4Ever Pediatric Dentistry, we strive to be the best pediatric dental experience for your child, as well as the whole family. If you’d like to have your questions answered, or come in for an appointment, don’t hesitate! Give us a call at our Houston, TX location at (832) 300-8444, and we’d love to see you!