As parents, we always want to make sure our children are healthy and that includes a strong oral hygiene routine. Researchers have found that the key to kids’ dental health is encouraging good habits at home.
Proper education must begin right away and expectant mothers should learn how to keep their children’s oral health in top shape. Bacteria can be transferred through something as simple as sharing a spoon and kissing on the mouth, so it is important to inform mothers of this risk. Fiona Sandom, president of the British Association of Dental Therapists states, “There have been many studies about the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to baby. The primary culprit is Streptococcus mutans, that can pass from person to person through the transfer of saliva so sharing utensils, blowing on food, and even kissing toddlers on the mouth all pose a risk.
“As dental professionals, we should be educating parents about the risks to primary dentition that is especially vulnerable during the period of eruption.
“But tooth decay is caused by many other factors and, as well as highlighting the dangers of transmitting infectious saliva, we also need to discuss good oral hygiene (for mother and child), a no-sugar diet and the importance of avoiding bad feeding practices, such as letting a baby constantly suck on the spout of a beaker full of juice, milk or other sugary drinks. Baby teeth are particularly vulnerable to decay and it is never too early to talk about prevention and good oral health practices.”
Sandom further said, “Children’s dental health education must begin with mothers-to-be. By highlighting the possibility that their own dental health can be compromised during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, it encourages effective and regular cleaning habits that will help prevent tooth decay and caries and, therefore, reduce the risk of any negative transmission to their offspring.
“As dental therapists, we need to share with parents the key preventive oral health measures that will help to eradicate children’s tooth decay.”
By starting with education early and at home, kids can gain lifelong healthy oral habits.