Eating and drinking supply the bacteria in the mouth with the carbohydrates they need to grow and produce acid that can destroy tooth enamel. (Refer to Chapter 4: Caries for more information.)
The types of food chosen and especially the pattern of ingestion can significantly alter a child’s risk for the development of caries.
The goal is to decrease the time that teeth are exposed to sugars.
This can be done by:
- Decreasing the frequency and duration of sugar intake
- Promptly removing carbohydrates from the teeth
- Choosing less cariogenic foods.
Include the following recommendations in your anticipatory guidance:
- Try to stop night feedings once the teeth erupt.
- Use methods other than feeding to calm a crying child.
- If a child needs a bottle to fall asleep, it should contain only plain water.
- Breastfeeding should be encouraged along with good oral hygiene and age appropriate, healthy, complementary foods.
- Discourage ad-libitum breast or bottle feeding.
- For infants who continue to feed on demand at night, parents should wipe the teeth clean after feedings.