Ask Dr. S: Can kissing your baby can make them more susceptible to cavities?

If you have a sweet little one you love, it’s hard not kiss them all the time, especially when they learn to kiss you back on the lips.  You blow on their food or take a quick bite to make sure it isn’t too hot using the same utensil you are feeding them with, all in the name of being a responsible, good, loving parent.   As you do these things, you pass along saliva that contains bacteria, both good and bad.  Sometimes, it can cause tooth decay in your little ones and you’ll end up surprised that your 3 year old has cavities at their first checkup.

The primary culprit is a bacteria known as Streptoccoccus mutans which can be transferred through saliva.  It is an infection that can spread from one person to another.  Babies are most susceptible when a tooth is erupting during teething.  It is similar to kissing a baby while having a cold, as the virus can be passed from one person to another.  This bacteria combined with genetics, oral hygiene and sugary liquids, either juice or milk, are all factors in making a baby vulnerable to tooth decay.

The good news is that not every parent is a carrier.  Parents who have active tooth decay or gum disease are known carriers of the bacteria.  For these parents, although the bacteria spreading behaviors are very natural and seem unavoidable, there are several preventative measures you can take, including:

  • Chew a Xylitol gum
  • Cut back on blowing on your baby’s food or sharing their utensil
  • Brush your baby’s teeth with his own toothbrush
  • Don’t let your baby put her fingers in anyone’s mouth
  • Wipe out his mouth with a clean wet cloth (tongue, teeth and cheeks)
  • Take your baby to her first dental appointment prior to her first birthday

If bacteria transfer to baby teeth is not addressed, it can have a lifelong impact and can damage your child’s permanent teeth.  Developing good oral hygiene habits from infancy and visiting your dentist for routine check-ups any time after the first tooth erupts are positive steps to helping your child.

If you have questions regarding transfer of bacteria from you to your child, please make an appointment to discuss it with your dentist.  Click here for more information about tooth decay or gum disease.  As a parent you can’t stress about all the dos and dont’s for your baby.  Here are our quick tips:

  • Don’t stop feeding them or kissing them
  • Continue to do loving things to ensure their happiness and safety
  • It’s never too early to start good oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing