Abstract: Aim The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship of feeding practices with dental caries in a group of respondents of 1-18 years of age of Lucknow city, India.
Materials and methods A case-control study was carried out in the outpatient department of Paedodontics and Preventive Dental Clinic, Saraswati Dental College and Hospital, Lucknow (UP), India. A total sample of 800 subjects in the 1-18 years age group was equally divided among cases (DMFT/deft >0) and controls (DMFT/deft = 0). Cases matched with controls for age, sex and religion. Clinical examination (DMFT /deft index) was performed in accordance with the WHO criteria for epidemiological studies. Respondents were interviewed in depth and retrospectively by means of a self-administered questionnaire.
Results Prolonged breast feeding beyond 6 months, bottle feeding, nocturnal bottle feeding containing sweet drink and milk and higher frequency of consumption of sweets emerged as significant risk factors for dental caries.
Conclusion Based on the differences between the caries and non-caries age groups, an educational and preventive programme should be initiated addressing the associated risk factors of specific age groups accordingly. In our present study nocturnal bottle feeding emerged as the most significant risk factor for dental caries in the 1-6 years age group. Hence health professionals should recognise the benefits of breastfeeding up to six months of life and should educate mothers about the importance of implementing beneficial dental habits to ensure that a child reaches oral health.