Tooth decay — an infectious and transmissible disease
Decay is caused by Streptococcus mutans bacteria which can be easily spread to infants during care giving activities such as feeding and nurturing. Parents with unhealthy teeth and gums have higher levels of this bacteria in their own mouths. Therefore it is important for pregnant women and parents to maintain good oral health themselves.
Expectant mothers can benefit from these messages:
- Baby’s teeth begin forming around the 4th week of pregnancy.
- Take your prenatal vitamins.
- Brush and floss your teeth daily. Brush for 2-3 minutes, a timer may help.
- Do not smoke.
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods. Avoid unhealthy snacks and beverages
- Visit your dentist regularly.
Once baby is born it is important to prevent or delay the transmission of Streptococcus mutans bacteria to the child. Parents can prevent transmission by following these tips:
- Don't share eating utensils.
- Don't put baby's items in your own mouth.
- Don't put baby's pacifier in your mouth to clean it.
- Don't test the temperature of baby's food with your mouth.
- Don't give "spit" baths.