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Page 44 Healthy Cells Magazine Peoria May 2014

dental health
id you know that you could pass harmful bacteria from
your mouth to your babys mouth, thereby increasing the
childs risk for cavities? If this surprises you, then you are
not alone. In fact, less than a third of American caregivers real-
ize they can pass dental diseases to a baby. A recent survey of
caregivers revealed this lack of knowledge about dental microbe
transmission. This transmission is most likely to take place during
the childs first two and one-half years of life. Since many dentists
do not see children until age three, they may not caution parents
about reducing this risk.
I have also been asked by young parents if there are any
immunological benefits within saliva that could boost their childs
resistances to bacteria. They say What doesnt kill you makes
you stronger. In this case there is no evidence to support that
point of view. Sometimes they suggest that they have heard that
breast-feeding can have immunological benefits. I would agree
that breast milk is a good immunity builder; however, the bacteria
in your saliva will cause more harm than good.
Transferral of the bacteria that causes tooth decay (Strepto-
coccus mutans) occurs when items contaminated with saliva go
into the childs mouth. The two most common behaviors that
parents transfer saliva are 1) sharing eating utensils and 2) using
their mouth to clean a babys pacifier. Although mothers play the
primary role in bacterial transmission, fathers and day care cen-
ters also play a role. hand-washing with antibacterial soap, using
hand sanitizer, and education for new mothers and caregivers will
reduce risky behaviors.
Babies are born without these harmful bacteria in their mouths.
But once the bacteria colonize the mouth, the child will be more
prone to cavities in their primary and permanent teeth. If you as
a parent have a history of poor oral health and frequent cavities,
youre more likely to pass these germs along. You should ask your
dentist or pediatric physician to assess your risk. Have your den-
tist treat existing tooth decay that you have in its earliest stages.
Recognize and eliminate saliva-transferring behaviors. Start early in
managing the oral health of your kids so that they are cavity free.
Keep in mind that kids will do what you do. So be sure to show
them that you are brushing your teeth and flossing every day. If you
value your smile, your children will value theirs.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that par-
ents protect the dental health of young children by promoting a
healthy diet, monitoring their intake of food and drink, brushing
their teeth or wiping gums after mealtimes and by having infants
finish their bedtime or naptime bottle before going to bed. The
ADA also recommends that children receive their first dental visit
within six months of eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12
months of age. Preventing tooth decay needs to start before the
teeth even erupt.
For gentl e dental and orthodonti c care for the enti re fami l y,
cal l the Mapl e Shade Dental Group at 309-285-8376. Vi si t
mapl for more i nformati on.
Photo credit: ivolodina/Thinkstock
Passing Harmful Bacteria
From Parent to Child
By Erin Shanahan, DMD, Maple Shade Dental Group
Erin Shanahan, DMD
Christian counselors, social workers, psychologists, and
support staff committed to a therapeutic process
that ministers to the whole person.
Assisting individuals and their families in their pursuit to become
all of whom they were created to be.
We look forward to having the opportunity to serve you.
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Peoria, IL 61614
Phone: (309) 692-4433
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Bloomington, IL 61704
Phone: (309) 663-2229