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Feeding and Nutrition Practices

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.

Anticipatory Guidance
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.
Eating and drinking supply bacteria in the mouth with the carbohydrates they need to produce acid and destroy tooth enamel.
The type of food and pattern of ingestion both impact caries development.
Caregivers should decrease the frequency and duration of sugar intake, promptly remove carbohydrates from the teeth, and choose less cariogenic foods.
Night feedings should be discouraged once a child's teeth begin to erupt.
View the Chapter 5 Photo Gallery.