Dental Health Tip: Tooth Decay Can Pass From Mommy to Baby, Don’t Share Spoons

Don't share spoons. Keep your baby safe from cavity causing bacteria.

Try not to share saliva with the baby by using the same spoon or licking a pacifier to clean it. Tooth decay can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother to the baby.

Tooth decay is a disease (believe it or not) that is caused by a bacterial infection. Just like any bacterial infection, if you remove the bacteria, the infection goes away. When your mouth contains the type of bacteria (called Strep Mutans) that cause cavities, there is a simple group of steps that begins the sequence that leads to cavities. Strep Mutans belongs to the group of bacteria called Streptococci. First the Strep Mutans must be in the mouth. Then there must be cracks or crevices in the teeth that the bacteria can stick to. Strep Mutans prefers to live in the cracks and crevices found in the teeth. Since your mouth is constantly being swept clean by your tongue and by saliva, the Strep Mutans does not stick well to smooth surfaces but rather to grooves, cracks or crevices that occur naturally in the teeth.

Once the germ finds a niche, it produces a sticky glue with a substance called polysaccharide and forms a “pellicle biofilm” that attaches it firmly to the crack or crevice. At his point it needs food to reproduce. Any food that has glucose or sucrose which winds up in your mouth provides enough food for the bacteria to grow and worse yet, to reproduce. The strep rapidly multiplies until there are large colonies on the tooth host.

That is why you feel a soft film on your teeth after a meal and before brushing. The bacteria convert the sugars to lactic acid, and this acid stays on the tooth surface and softens it. Given enough time and enough acid, a hole develops in the tooth and this is what we know as a cavity. The ideal cavity causing environment is measured by an acid scale called pH. Typical mouth pH is between 6.7 and 7.3. Cavities start to form at an oral pH of 5.5.

When babies are born, they do not have Strep Mutans in their mouths at all. Their mother gives them the bug from their own mouths. So, if they never get strep Mutans, or get it later, they may not even develop cavities. So, do not share spoons or lick spoons before giving them to baby so you can avoid passing on the cavity bugs in the first place.

If you or your child need a dental appointment, book now by contacting us at (732) 219-8900 or filling in the online booking form.