Can A Mother’s Oral Health Predict A Child’s Oral Health?
Dental hygiene is often overlooked when it comes to our newborn babies. After all, a new parent has so much to deal with so it is quite understandable for dental hygiene to take a back seat. However, recent research has uncovered a possible link between a mother’s oral health and their child’s. This is likely due to shared lifestyle components between mother and child. They share similar genetic backgrounds, shared environments, and shared knowledge/attitude towards dental hygiene.
Mothers can also share their oral bacteria with their children. Previous research has shown mothers with high salivary levels of mutans strptococci (MS) are more likely to have children with high levels of MS in their oral bacteria profile. The reverse is children with high levels of tooth decay are more likely to have mothers with high levels of MS.
Oral Health Research
The research was completed at several universities in California with 200+ pregnant women entering their 2nd trimester. The saliva was tested at various points during pregnancy and at 4, 9, 12, 24, and 36 months following birth. All were also given dental examinations throughout the research. All of the mothers included in the study had experience tooth decay prior to the study. At the 36 month mark, more than 1/3 of all children had dental decay. The study concluded that mothers with high levels of MS were more likely to have children with high levels of MS. On the other hand mothers with lowered levels of MS were more likely to have caries free children.
Dental Health Tips For Moms
–Drink Lots Of Water. Drinking water is not only good for our bodies but also for our teeth. We tend to snack more when we are going from different events with little to no time to worry about our dental health. Drinking water will keep you and your kids hydrated but it will also reduce the effects of frequent snacking on your teeth. Rinsing with water following snacking will help reduce the food trapped between our teeth as well as reduce the acidic levels which lead to tooth decay. Flavored waters and gatorade are loaded with sugar, so stay away from sugary beverages. –Travel Toothbrushes And Floss. These compact brushes and floss picks are great for a quick toothbrushing and flossing in the back of the car before going to a new event. They will not only keep your teeth clean but they can also freshen your breath. Many travel toothbrushes already have toothpaste on them. Wetting the brush will release the toothpaste.
–Snack Wisely. Not all snacks are created equally when it comes to our teeth. Snacks high in sugar and carbohydrates are worse for our teeth over the course of a long day. Choose snacks like fresh fruits, Not “fruit snacks”, (which tend to stick and stay between the teeth ) raw vegetables, lentil chips, edamame, milk, cheese, granola, whole wheat crackers, and nuts. You can even make quick oatmeal cookies by mixing an overripe banana with plain oatmeal or flavored instant oatmeal and placing spoonfuls on a cookie sheet with parchment paper, bake at 325 about 20 minutes. These can be eaten as a meal or a snack.
–Drink Sugary Drinks Through A Straw. Due to the sugary deposits left in the mouth, using a straw while drinking the soda will have less contact with the teeth. Of course, it is better to avoid sugary beverages entirely, but if you must do them, use precautions and drink water directly after.
–Chew Gum. Pack sugar free gum that contains Xylitol (sugar substitute) to help kill bacteria in the mouth after eating during the day. Gum will also help pull food particles off the teeth and stimulate saliva flow to help neutralize acids.
–Keep A Set Of Toothbrushes By The Kitchen Sink. When mealtime needs to be rushed, most kids will not go back to the bathroom to go and brush. If the toothbrushes are right there when the dishes are going in the sink, they are more likely to find the time to brush and rinse after the meal.
–Use Fluoride Rinses. Be sure to have children rinse with a fluoride rinse before bed, this should help strengthen teeth and make cavities less likely to happen.
–Prepack Your Fridge. If you have pre-made sandwiches and healthy snacks like washed grapes, apple slices, or cheese cubes in ziploc bags, it is easy to grab what you need and not have to stop for unhealthy fast foods, donuts, and snacks.
–Educate your kids. When kids learn about making healthier choices, have them readily available, and start to enjoy the bag of fresh berries over the flaming hot cheetos they will start feeling better and enjoy a more healthy lifestyle.
–Don’t eat gummies! For some reason, packaged processed “fruit snacks” have become a new food group. Parents are under the false impression that they are healthy. They do not take the place of fresh fruit, and are one of the leading causes of tooth decay in toddlers and children. Remember, natural cane sugar is still sugar. When it sticks and stays between your child’s teeth, it will cause decay.
We cannot change the oral bacteria profile we develop as a child but we can do our best to manage what we are given. This should include diligent at home dental care along with regular dental visits. This will ensure a healthy smile for a lifetime.
Marielaina Perrone DDS