Can kissing on the lips give my baby tooth decay?

There's a very real danger it can, say dentists - even if your baby's teeth are even showing yet. Here's why...

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Here at MFM HQ, we’ve shared a number of stories about the dangers of kissing babies on the lips: perhaps the most heartbreaking being that of an 18-day-old baby who died when she contracted meningitis after someone kissed her ?

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So, we thought we knew only too well the potential risks of letting strangers kiss your babies – especially newborns.

But now a UK dentist has brought up another potentially nasty side effect of us  – yes, even us, the parents – kissing our little ones on the lips: tooth decay.

Dr Richard Marques from Wimpole Street Dental, explained to the Independent how the bacteria that cause tooth decay can be transferred by a kiss from an adult’s mouth to a baby’s mouth – and then negatively affect a baby’s tooth development even before the first baby teeth show in the gums. 

“Baby teeth have a different type of enamel and dentine to adult teeth,” he said. “The enamel is much thinner on baby teeth. It is not as strong as adult enamel, so is more likely to decay.

“Saliva transfer from parent to child is a risk as this can spread bacteria, such as streptococcus mutans, from adult to child.”

And streptococcus mutans, Dr Marques explained, can cause decay of baby teeth. “It can even affect the soft tissues and gums before the baby teeth have developed,” he said.

It turns out that US dentists have been advising parents for some time to avoid kissing their baby on the lips for the exact same reason. In fact, the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, also advises that you shouldn’t share utensils like spoons or cups with your baby, or put your baby’s dummy in your mouth.

Obviously, there is less risk of your baby ‘catching’ tooth decay from you if there isn’t much streptococcus mutans bacteria in your mouth in the first place. 

So it’s especially important to look after your own dental health (by brushing, flossing, getting regular dental check-ups) when you have a little one – though hopefully you’ve been good at doing that anyway, long before you became a mum.

Just for reference though – and in case you’ve been a bit dentist-shy – if you have generally good oral health, you should see a dentist every 1 to 2 years ?

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