Does Kissing Your Baby's Lips Cause Cavities?
When mothers hold their newborn babies, it is quite normal and natural for them to continuously kiss them. While this may seem like an innocent activity, kissing your baby could cause him or her to develop cavities. This occurs because of the bacteria you can spread to the child through your saliva, but there are ways to prevent this from happening.
How Does This Happen?
Every time you kiss your baby's lips, there is a chance that your saliva will get inside the child's mouth. This would not be a problem if your mouth was bacteria-free, but this is never the case. A normal adult has approximately 200 to 300 different types of bacteria living in it; however, there is one specific type that is the leading cause of dental decay–Streptococcus mutans, or S. mutans.
S. mutans is bacteria that takes the sugars in the mouth and converts them to lactic acid. Lactic acid is extremely harmful to teeth because it eats away at the enamel on them, and this is what leads to the formation of decay. When babies first begin getting teeth, the enamel on the teeth is soft and weak. It takes time for it to harden, which poses instant risks for the teeth.
If the baby's mouth contains S. mutans, the baby has a much higher chance of developing cavities. While most babies have this bacteria in their mouths, the levels are typically very low.
Is This Always The Cause?
Cavities form when acid eats the enamel on teeth. The important thing to understand is that sugar alone does not cause cavities. Cavities can only form when lactic acid is present, and lactic acid is more prevalent in a person's mouth when the person has high levels of S. mutans because lactic acid is a byproduct of this bacteria.
To reduce the chances of your child developing cavities at an early age, you should look for ways to reduce the amount of sugar the child gets, and you must avoid transferring S. mutans to your child.
You should also realize that if you currently have any tooth decay in your mouth, you probably have a high level of S. mutans. Because of this, it will be much easier for you to transfer this to your child through your saliva.
How Can You Avoid This?
While good oral habits are vital for your child as he or she begins getting teeth, good oral habits are also important for you as the child's mother. There are certain things you should avoid to prevent transferring this bacteria and here are some of these things:
- Do not kiss the baby's lips, even if it is extremely tempting
- Never share a drink with a baby
- Do not feed the child with your fork or spoon
You can also reduce the chances of spreading S. mutans to your child by practicing the following good oral habits:
- Get cavities filled if you have them and any other dental work that is needed by a dentist like Abigail Rollins, DMD, PC
- Get your teeth cleaned regularly
- Use products that contain fluoride, and this includes the toothpaste you use and your mouthwash
- Brush and floss at least twice each day
- Eat healthy foods and avoid junk food
If your teeth are clean, healthy, and free of plaque, you might not have to worry about transferring bacteria to your child if you kiss his or her lips.
To learn more about how to prevent this problem, talk to your dentist. You can make an appointment to get your teeth cleaned, and always make sure you schedule appointments for any other types of dental work you may need.