Like a cold, cavity-causing bacteria can be passed from one person to another.
This transfer often happens between caregiver and baby and can occur at any time. However, it’s the eruption phase of tooth growth that’s most crucial. This period can start as early as 4 months of age and last until 3 years.
Strange cavity causes
Active or untreated cavities have large amounts of mutans streptococci bacteria that group together and cause tooth decay when the right conditions are present.
These bacteria can be passed through sharing of utensils, kissing or chewing food to bite-sized pieces for a child.
“It can be difficult as a parent to not share utensils or refrain from giving your baby a kiss on the lips,” said Dr. Albana Cami, a dentist at Marshfield Clinic Marshfield Dental Center.
Prevent unusual cavities
The best way to prevent a baby from poor oral health is to practice good oral health as parents.
“Expectant mothers should see their dentists regularly,” she said. “Less active cavities means less bacteria, which then decreases the chance of spreading bacteria to the child.”
Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends caregivers take these steps to prevent unusual cavities:
- Use wet gauze to wipe baby’s teeth, gums, cheeks and tongue after each feeding.
- Use fluoride supplements if your drinking water does not contain fluoride.
- Brush the baby’s teeth and gums without fluoridated toothpaste as soon as the first tooth comes through. Once children are able to prevent swallowing, introduce fluoridated toothpaste.
- In addition to good oral hygiene, caregivers can chew xylitol gum a few times daily. Research suggests that xylitol decreases the transfer of bacteria and caries rate on children.
- Minimize sharing utensils, chewing food for your baby, blowing on food for cooling or giving lip kisses.
- Bring your child to the dentist as early as first tooth eruption but no later than 12 months of age. Continue semi-annual appointments thereafter.
- Limit a child’s frequency of eating/drinking sugary foods.
“Don’t feel discouraged if it’s difficult to quit some of these habits, like sharing a spoon or kissing your baby’s lips,” Cami said. “If you can take good care of your oral health, you can worry that much less about spreading bacteria and causing cavities.”