Objective: To find scientific evidence that can prove or refute the assumption that nocturnal and on demand breastfeeding are associated with caries in infants and preschool children.
Sources of data: MEDLINE, Lilacs, and SciELO articles were searched, as well as important internet sites, technical books and consensus publications of national and international organisms. The following keywords were used: "early childhood caries", "dental caries", "dental decay" and "breastfeeding". References cited in the articles selected were also included.
Summary of the findings: Studies associating caries with breastfeeding invariably observe factors associated with how this disease develops, letting aside those associated with breastfeeding. Many of these factors act as confusing variables because in the same way as they interfere in breastfeeding, they also influence the development of caries. Besides, current studies have already demonstrated the cariogenic potential of some types of aliments given to children against the non-cariogenic potential of the human milk.
Conclusions: There is no scientific evidence proving that human milk can be associated with the development of caries. This is a complex relation to be established, as it is often blurred by too many variables.