Moms may want to be warned that kissing their baby on the lips may increase their baby’s chances of developing cavities. Moms who share food, drinks, cups and utensils with her baby, may also increase the baby’s chances of developing cavities. That’s because bacteria from the mother’s mouth called mutans streptococci (MS), is considered to be the principal indicator of bacterial organisms responsible for dental caries. This is according to clinical guidelines found in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
“The passing of MS bacteria from mother to child is called vertical transmission from mother to infant,” said Eric M. Soper, DMD and private practitioner at Pediatric Dental Center. “Tooth decay is a bacterial infection that can spread through saliva from the mother to the child just as a cold or flu virus would spread.”
The higher the levels of MS in the mother’s mouth, the greater the risk of transferring it to infants through kissing on the mouth and sharing food or drink. For this reason, it’s important that moms routinely visit the dentist and takes care of her teeth and gums.
“Once MS is in the baby or child’s mouth, the teeth are susceptible to decay,” said Angelica Wong, DDS and private practitioner at Pediatric Dental Center.
To prevent vertical transmission of bacteria from mother to child, the following is recommended:
-It is very important that mothers and mother’s-to-be take care of their oral health. This includes routine visits to the dentist, and brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
-Routinely visiting the dentist for professional dental care allows mothers to optimize her oral health.
-Have an oral evaluation during pregnancy for preventive and therapeutic oral healthcare.
-Avoid salivary contact from kissing on the lips, and sharing cups, utensils and food.
-Mothers should not clean a dropped pacifier by mouth.
-Take care of your child’s teeth and gums by routinely brushing and flossing, limiting foods and sweetened beverages to meal time and routinely visiting a pediatric dentist.
-Keep infants mouth clean even if teeth haven’t erupted yet. Keep the mouth clean by rubbing a washcloth or finger brush against the gums.