It seems according to a Canadian dentist Dr. Ian McConnachie, anyone with poor oral hygiene can pass bacteria onto a baby, even through a simple kiss. As such, he believes that parents shouldn’t wait till the baby has grown its first tooth to ensure he or she is being cared for orally.
Dr. McConnachie told reporters: “Oral health begins in babyhood, even pre-birth. Parental health has an impact on the developing child and the risks of oral health problems.”
This view is backed up by Sarah Hulland, former president of the Canadian Academy of Paediatric Dentistry. She told reporters: “The traditional belief was that infants didn’t need to have their gums wiped or cleaned because they didn’t have any dentition and, when they did, they just had baby teeth that were going to fall out anyway.”
Sarah added: “Studies now show that, although you are not born with the bacteria associated with cavities, you acquire those bacteria prior to getting teeth. Once you have a basic culture of the bacteria in your mouth, you can set the pattern of getting cavities. The balance against that is appropriate oral hygiene — wiping gums and brushing teeth really early.”
Dr. McConnachie also pointed out that women’s nutritional habits during pregnancy will also have an affect on the baby’s oral health. Further, he suggested that a family history of dental problems can also be passed on. He said: “If there is a risk of decay within either side of the family, there is a chance that the child is going to get it.”
Further, the problems aren’t just confined to kissing a baby but the way the adult prepares and gives food to their child, such as blowing on the warm food to cool it. Dr. McConnachie added: “Because bacterial transmission is one of the risks, ideally the mother has to be at a high level of oral health.”
Consequently, a baby should be checked out by a dentist after its first birthday.