Your Child’s Oral Health is a Reflection of Your Own
If you want your children to have healthy teeth, make sure that your own mouth is healthy.
New DNA coding techniques have allowed medical researchers to trace the path of infection from one person to another. One of the most common oral infections, gum disease (also known as periodontal disease), was found to be transmitted by saliva contact between family members.
Studies from Brazil to Japan have shown that the bacterial flora (number and kind of bacteria) in a child’s mouth is very similar to the bacterial flora of their mothers.
Transmission of bacteria, and thereby disease, can occur through saliva contact in many ways e.g.
- Sharing food
- Sharing a cup, glass, straw, spoon and other utensils
- Blowing on food to cool it
All this can give periodontal disease to children.
In a 1997 study, it was found that one type of periodontal infection was found 26 times more often in children younger than three years – if the mother tested positive for the same infection.
Is periodontal disease serious? It is well-recognised that periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Treatment of advanced periodontal disease and its consequences e.g. replacement of lost teeth, can be both complex and expensive.
The good news is that periodontal disease and tooth decay is easily preventable. Here is what you can do:
- Make sure that you practise good oral hygiene – learn the correct techniques of brushing and flossing and do it everyday. Over my 30 years of dental practice, I have observed that the parents who have good attitudes to dental care and are conscientious about hygiene almost invariably have kids with good dental health.
- Every care-giver – this includes grandparents and maids – should have regular dental check-ups to make sure their teeth are thoroughly cleaned through scaling and polishing. Any diseased teeth must be treated. This greatly reduces the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
- Be alert to personal hygiene habits like sharing of towels and tooth brushing.
- Learn the appropriate techniques for cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as the first baby teeth grow.
- And of course, take your child and yourself for regular check-ups at the dentist – don’t wait for pain. Ask the dentist whether you are cleaning your own teeth well and find out the best way to clean your children’s teeth too.
As parents, your attitudes to good health are bound to rub off on your child.
Find out more about gum disease on our website.