It might be a way to show affection, but kissing your baby on the lips before they have teeth could harm their future dental health
Being affectionate is a way mums and dads show their love. Showering their little ones with hugs and kisses comes naturally. And so is the drive to make sure they grow up healthy. Unfortunately, gestures of affection — like kissing baby on the mouth — could harm their future health.
Kissing baby on mouth could spread harmful bacteria, doctors say
According to a study conducted by BioMed Central Oral Health, a mum can transfer oral bacteria by kissing their babies on the lips. This exposes them to germs that could cause dental cavities and other oral health issues.
But it’s not just kissing baby on mouth that poses risks. Even sharing a spoon with your little one during mealtime could be putting them at risk of future cavities.
Mum Rachel learned this when her two-year-old was diagnosed with baby teeth cavities. According to their dentist, it could have been the result of kissing her baby on the mouth.
“The dentist handed me this piece of paper that talked about saliva transfer,” the 37-year-old mum told NBC News, recounting how shocked she was.
“It said not to share cups or utensils or food and said, ‘No kissing your kid on the lips.’ I was shocked; I’d been taking a bite of food and then giving her a bite since she started eating,” she continued. “I told the dentist I’d never heard of this and he said these were new findings.”
Like Rachel, a lot of mums and dads aren’t really aware of the risk.
However, paediatric dentist Dr. Jane Soxman clarifies that it’s not always kissing on the lips that’s to blame. It is merely one of a variety of factors.
Tooth decay is a bacterial infection that can spread when your child’s teeth are at their most vulnerable, or before their milk teeth erupt.
“It’s as if you had a bad cold and were kissing your child, you would spread the cold virus,” Dr. Soxman explains to NBC News.
A study in the Journal of the California Dental Association further emphasises the importance of treating dental caries, or teeth decay, as an “infectious disease.”
How to prevent future tooth decay
The Pediatric Dental Center offers the following guidelines to avoid the spread of tooth decay-causing bacteria:
- Take care of your own oral health. Mums and mums-to-be should visit their dentist religiously, brush with fluoride toothpaste, and floss regularly.
- While pregnant, have an oral checkup. With all the preparation involved in pregnancy, it’s easy to overlook your dental health. Don’t forget to schedule a visit to know if preventive treatment is needed.
- Of course, avoid “salivary contact,” which means NO kissing on the lips or sharing utensils during meals.
- Don’t let them use a bottle or sippy cup as a pacifier!
- If your little one drops their pacifier, make sure to replace or clean it instead of just manually cleaning it.
- Brush and floss your child’s milk teeth, as advised by your paediatric dentist.
- Keep sweetened beverages at a minimum.
- Even if your little one’s teeth have not come out yet, keep their mouth clean! From birth to 12 months, simply use a clean wash cloth or finger brush to lightly scrub their gums. Around the age of 12 to 36 months, you can brush your child’s teeth with flouride toothpaste twice a day.
For any dental health concerns, it’s always best to consult your child’s paediatrician.