Sharing Germs – Preventing Cavities in Infants
Newborns develop entirely free of germs. Their first exposure to germs is during delivery, during which time germs (mostly good bugs!) are passed from mother to child. This is the first step for your child developing a healthy colony of bacteria in her mouth, stomach, and intestines. Bacteria are essential for us to live, and believe it or not humans have more bacteria cells than human cells inside of them!!
Cavities and Germs
Cavities form when a “perfect storm” occurs in a child's mouth. This includes a few things – cavity-causing bacteria, nutrients for the bacteria to grow, and enough time for the bacteria to grow. If any one of those three factors is not present, your child can be cavity-free!
Transmitting Cavity Germs
Most often, cavity-causing bacteria are transmitted from mother to child. This happens when we share saliva, whether it is cleaning off a pacifier with our mouths after it falls on the floor, testing food to be sure it's not too hot, or other saliva-sharing activities. You can do two things to reduce the number of bacteria transmitted to your child. First, if you don't have harmful bacteria in your mouth, you won't pass them along to your baby. Visiting your family dentist regularly and having cavities treated will help to minimize the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth. Second, minimizing saliva-sharing activities will reduce your child's exposure to harmful bacteria. Children who are exposed at a very young age to cavity-causing bacteria can get much more aggressive forms of cavities, because their bodies have not developed large colonies of healthy bugs to compete with the harmful ones.
All children will be exposed to cavity-causing bacteria eventually, but delaying exposure will reduce the likelihood that they will get cavities. Also, it will reduce the chances of them getting a very severe