Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From mother to baby

Mothers (and fathers? may not be aware of this... but then again, here it is!

Teething problem
Mothers can unwittingly pass cavity-inducing bacteria to their kids, causing tooth decay

To cool your toddler's piping hot porridge, you blow at it. Then you slurp a little off the spoon to make sure it is not too hot before you feed your child - with the same spoon.

Between mother and child, this routine exchange of saliva is hardly unusual. However, while doing so, mums may unwittingly pass cavity-inducing bacteria to their babies.

In recent years, research has shown that it is possible for very young children to "catch" cavities from their caregivers via saliva transfer, just like cold and flu viruses.

A 2008 review of 46 studies published in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry found "strong evidence demonstrated that mothers are a primary source of mutans streptococci colonisation of their children".

Streptococcus mutans is a type of bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Complete Guide to Dental HealthAccording to Dr Choy Keen Meng, clinical director of Toof Doctor, there are more than 100 million bacteria in every millilitre of saliva.

Most oral bacteria are not harmful, unless there are open wounds or cuts inside the mouth. However, some species of bacteria, such as the Streptococcus Mutans (S Mutans), are not as harmless.

"S Mutans are not found occurring naturally in the mouths of babies, but are usually transmitted from a mother with active tooth decay to her child through kissing and sharing of utensils during feeding. This type of bacteria can digest sugars and starches in foods and produce acids that decalcify tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay," said Dr Choy.

In general, the enamel of baby teeth is "softer than adult teeth, and hence very susceptible to harmful oral bacteria", he added.

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It is also important to note that dental caries is a multifactorial disease, said Dr Rashid Tahir, specialist paediatric dentist at The Kids Dentist and president of Society for Paediatric Dentistry Singapore

"Having oral bacteria alone may not cause cavities if they are not exposed to sugars, and the person's resistance is good," said Dr Rashid.

Other cavity-causing factors include the child's lifestyle and habits such as poor brushing habits, inadequate floride and frequent snacking on sugary snacks.

Nightly bottle feeds can also increase the child's risk of developing tooth decay.

Basic Dental Health DVD More babies with decaying teeth

Dental experts Today spoke to said they are seeing more cases of tooth decay in toddlers and pre-school Singapore children.

A recent survey by National University of Singapore's (NUS) faculty of dentistry found that 26 per cent of children at the ages of three and four have dental caries.

There are no official stats on those below the ages of three, but Dr Rashid estimated that tooth decay may afflict up to 25 per cent of toddlers between two and three years old.

His youngest patient, at 18 months old, had tooth decay which required treatment.

Even though baby teeth do eventually fall off, experts said parents should still teach their babies and toddlers to maintain good oral hygiene. Tooth decay in babies can affect one's quality of life, said the dentists.

Making the American Mouth: Dentists and Public Health in the Twentieth Century (Critical Issues in Health and Medicine)Said Dr Rashid: "Now imagine if a three-year-old child has a toothache. When a toothache occurs, not only does the child suffer, very often the parents suffer, too, because the child may not eat and sleep well.

"When the child doesn't sleep, the parents also won't get to sleep, and the next person to suffer will be the dentist - trying to treat a young child possibly lacking in cooperation because of age and anxiety who is in pain!"

The other problem with tooth decay, added Dr Rashid, is that it may cause a bad infection that results in facial swellings. Such severe infections can sometimes be fatal.

Start early

Tooth Tissues *** (3) THREE PACKS *** Dental Wipes for Baby and Toddler SmilesGet your little one acquainted with good dental habits, even before he has teeth.

Dr Rashid advised wiping the gum pads of babies twice a day with a wet towel to get them used to twice-daily toothbrushing later.

He added that the first trip to the dentist should also be carried by the age of one year, and not when the child is howling in pain from a toothache.

Taken from; source article is below:
Teething problem

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