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Nutrition and Tooth Decay in infancy

Question: What should I pay attention to concerning my childís diet?

There is no doubt that breast-feeding is the ideal nutrition for an infant since mother's milk contains all necessary ingredients that help the balanced upbringing of a newborn baby.Since you have decided to bring a baby in this world it would be a great pity to deprive it of such a precious experience.After the first months you will, of course, start improving its feeding step by step.

The basic dietetic habits of the child are created during the first years of its life, when its parents have the absolute control of the diet.For this reason the choice of food and the habits that are introduced to the child are very important.Try to avoid food that contains large quantities of sugar, and putting sugar in your childís food or milk.

If the child needs to have snacks between meals, you should avoid food containing sugar (chewing gum, candy, cookies, soft drinks, fruit juices that contain sugar).Recommended foods are vegetables (carrot, celery, cucumber), fruit and fruit juices without sugar.Also, yellow cheeses would be a very good choice, because they help in fighting tooth decay.Children accept these foods easier if they havenít been previously used to foods with large quantities of sugar.

Bad nutritional habits generally promote the appearance of tooth decay in all ages.An example of the effect of nutrition in tooth decay, is the baby-bottle tooth decay or nursing caries syndrome.

 Question: What is the nursing caries syndrome? 


Nursing caries syndrome is a severe form of tooth decay, which is primarily due to bad feeding habits (feeding in bed while sleeping).This tooth decay usually affects the anterior primary teeth of children 2-5 years of age.

Question: How does nursing caries syndrome occur?

The most usual cause of this form of decay is the use of the nursing bottle during sleep.During sleep the quantity of saliva in the mouth is reduced and the milk, whether on its own or with sugar remains, on the teeth causing tooth decay.We will have the same result if instead of milk we put fruit juice in the bottle, even if it is diluted, water with sugar or honey, or if we give the child a pacifier that has been dipped in honey or sugar.Even the motherís milk can cause this kind of damage, if the child is allowed to nurse after the age of 1 year and whenever it wants to during night-time. 

Question: What is the best way to deal with nursing caries?

The best way of confronting baby-bottle decay is PREVENTION.Its prevention can be accomplished by informing the parents on what they have to do and what they have to avoid.

 Question: How can I prevent nursing bottle syndrome?

Keep on breast-feeding your baby at least till its 4th or 6th month.

Put only milk or water in the babyís bottle and use it only during daytime and never when the baby is asleep.

Never put juices or other fluids in the bottle, until the child is able to drink from a glass by itself try to feed it with a spoon.

Never give the child pacifiers dipped in sugar or honey.It is the worst thing to do to your child's teeth.

From the moment the child's first teeth appear, clean them after every meal.Start with a wet gauze and later with a small and soft toothbrush without toothpaste.

When you bottle-feed the baby hold it, as well as the bottle. ††This way the child learns that its parents are the ones who control the bottle.Under no circumstances should you confuse the time the child eats with the time it sleeps.These should be two separate activities.

Visit the pediatric dentist with your child as soon as it has some teeth and, certainly, never later than the age of 3.

Question: When should I stop the habit of feeding the child with the bottle?

From the age that the child can sit by itself, it can and should drink from a training cup.In general, the child should stop the use of the baby-bottle before it is 12 months old.

 Question: How can I help my baby forget its milk - bottle?

There are 3 methods that can be used for the discontinuation of this drinking habit.

The most drastic way is to throw the bottle in the garbage after the 12th month.

Another way is to gradually dilute the contents of the bottle with water so that after two weeks the contents of the bottle will be pure water.

The third way is to reduce the quantity of fluid in the bottle daily until the habit stops.

Replace the bottle with a training cup with a special tip on its cover.This will gradually lead the baby to the ordinary cup.