Clean your tongue for better oral & general health!

Clean your tongue for better oral & general health!

Keeping your tongue clean is an important part of oral health care and hygiene. Why? Because oral bacteria can build up on your tongue, just like it does on your teeth.

If excess bacteria accumulate on your tongue, you may experience halitosis or bad breath. But that’s not all. You may also be at higher risk of more serious oral health complications, such as oral infections, periodontal disease and lung infections.

Daily tongue cleaning reduces your risk of gum disease (periodontal disease)

Cleaning your tongue is very important if you want to reduce pathogenic tongue bacteria. Take Fusobacterium Nucleatum for example. It is a highly invasive bacterium that causes periodontal (gum) disease.

F. Nucleatum feed off fermenting carbohydrates and cause dental plaque. These microorganisms live quite comfortably in the mucus on your tongue. They can proliferate into huge colonies within tongue mucus, which can contain 100s of millions of these nasty rod-shaped critters. Now imagine brushing your teeth, but not your tongue.

What happens next?

As soon as you put down your toothbrush and close your mouth, your bacterially coated tongue is going to redeposit millions of bacteria straight back onto the teeth you’ve just cleaned! F. Nucleatum can also infect the head, neck, chest, lungs, liver and abdomen if given the opportunity.

Tongue cleaning may help prevent lung infections

Tongue cleaning is a crucial part of a general health routine to help prevent pathogenic bacteria from spreading to the rest of your body. Many previous clinical studies have shown that you can inhale aspirated oral bacteria from your mouth straight into your lungs. This can lead to health complications if your immune system is under par.

According to a new study published by Japanese dental researchers in August 2018, a bacterial imbalance on your tongue can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory health problems – especially if you are an older adult with missing teeth, high plaque levels and more tooth decay than usual.

The Japanese researchers noted that equal attention should be given to maintaining proper oral care of the tongue, as well as the teeth and gums, for good oral health.

Graphic health labels on soft drinks give drinkers second thoughts

Graphic health labels on soft drinks give drinkers second thoughts

Sugar is the new tobacco. For years, the side effects of excess sugar consumption have stayed under the radar of the Department of Health. Now, it’s finally under scrutiny, since being identified as a contributing factor to rising rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and preventable tooth decay – in Australia and the rest of the world.

The front-of-pack label experiment

Taking their cue from tobacco “front-of-pack” health labelling, researchers from Deakin University wanted to find out if a similar approach could work with consumers of sugary drinks. In their recent study, the researchers asked 1000 participants, aged 18-35 years old, to select from a range of sugary and unsweetened beverages with or without health labels.

While the unsweetened beverages had no labels, the sugary ones had health labels that included front-of-pack graphic/text warnings, the number of teaspoons of added sugar and/or a Health Star Rating.

The results

The Australian researchers found that participants felt dissuaded to choose a sugary drink with a front-of-pack health label or a low Health Star Rating – for health reasons.

Front-of-pack graphic warning labels had the greatest impact – with 36% of participants saying they were less likely to a sugary drink with one. Health Star Ratings labels scored 20%, while “number of teaspoons of added sugar” labels scored 18%.

TC-dental-Group-Warning-soft-drinks

Time for action

The lead author of the study, Prof. Anna Peeters, stated that front-of-pack health labelling on sugary drink containers has the potential to: change consumer behaviour; reduce sugary drink sales; prevent excessive sugar consumption; and help people to be better informed and more health conscious about their drink choices.

Since sugary drinks are the largest source of added sugar in our diets, Peeters noted that a front-of-pack health labelling strategy should be introduced as soon as possible, to help reduce the high rates of obesity, type-2 diabetes and preventable tooth decay in Australia.
Peeters also noted that front-of-pack health labels should be designed with children and adolescents in mind, since they represent the highest consumer group of sugary beverages in Australia.

graphic-labelling-deakin-researchers

Snack smart during World Cup 2018

Snack smart during World Cup 2018

If you’ve been binge watching the FIFA World Cup on TV, your teeth won’t be at risk from a direct hit to the face from a soccer ball, unlike the actual players in the game. However, you may be putting your teeth at risk if you binge snack at the same time.

Binge watching and binge snacking often go hand in hand during World Cup time, not to mention other marathon sporting events and streaming services, such as Netflix.

The dangers of binge snacking

Sugary or starchy snacks eaten in moderation are okay, as long as you practice good oral care and hygiene afterwards. But when you watch a marathon TV event all through the night, those rules often fly out the window.

In fact, you may be susceptible to all sorts of abnormal snacking behaviour while you binge watch. If you happen to fall asleep on the sofa with a mouthful of sugary food residue at 2am, another World Cup party of a different kind will start up for the billions of oral bacteria in your mouth.

Within a short space of time, the acidic by-products from the oral bacteria will start to eat away at your tooth enamel, causing accelerated tooth decay and potential cavities.

Plan your snacks the smart way

Take control of your binge snacking by limiting the amount of snacks you consume. If you are watching a game, eat your fill of snacks during the first quarter of a game to get yourself going. At half-time, take an oral hygiene break by rinsing your mouth and/or brushing your teeth.

Once the 2nd half starts up, settle down for the rest of the match with a clean, fresh mouth. If you fall asleep towards the end of the game – no worries! If you watch another match and still feel hungry, repeat the process.

Tc-dental-group-World-cup-2018

Smart snack choices

Not all snacks are harmful to your teeth – just the sugary, starchy ones. There are heaps of healthy snack choices, including: fresh fruits and vegetables; unsweetened whole grains; unsweetened dairy products; and meats, nuts & seeds.
The main SMART SNACK tips to keep in mind:

  • DON”T BINGE! – Limit your intake of sugary and/or starchy snacks while watching TV
  • Avoid sipping sweetened beverages for long periods of time
  • Include a variety of foods from different food groups
  • Quickly rinse your mouth out with water after snacking to wash away food residue
  • Brush your teeth just before you finally hit the sack

How fissure sealants prevent tooth decay and cavities in children

How fissure sealants prevent tooth decay and cavities in children

TC Dental dentists can provide a range of dental treatments for your child, depending on what oral health issues they have. But we also offer treatment options that can prevent most of these issues from occurring in the first place. Fissure sealants are one such treatment. They can safeguard your child’s teeth, and help keep them strong and healthy.

What are fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants (or dental sealants) are an acrylic coating that is applied to the natural fissures and pits on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.

How do fissure sealants work?

Fissures, grooves and pits are hot spots for the accumulation of food residue that may be hard to reach with a tooth brush – especially if they are deep and narrow. When food residue accumulates in these areas, plaque and bacteria can form and can cause tooth decay and cavities.

Fissure sealants fill in fissures, and form a hard, smooth protective shield over them. This prevents food and bacteria from penetrating into these areas.

Fissure sealant treatment

A fissure sealant treatment is a fairly straight forward dental procedure that requires minimal prep.

First, the tooth or teeth are thoroughly cleaned to remove any plaque and bacteria. They are then coated with a special gel solution that is allowed to dry, after which the acrylic sealant is applied, and cured with a UV light that activates and hardens the sealant. The whole process usually takes a few minutes per tooth.

Do fissure sealants last a long time?

Yes, they do – several years in fact. However, depending on what or how your child eats and chews, fissure sealants may wear out over time, in which case, your dentist may need to re-apply more and check for any signs of decay. When you take your child in for their regular dental visit, your dentist will check for any changes.

When is the right age for children to receive fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants are usually applied to children’s teeth when they are between the ages of 6 and 14 years old. But the rule of thumb, since all children develop differently, is to get your dentist to apply fissure sealants as soon as any of your child’s permanent back teeth emerge.

If you feel that your child would benefit from fissure sealants, consult with our dentists or hygienists during your child’s next visit. They will be able to identify which of your child’s teeth are suitable for treatment, as well as the right time to have them sealed.

TC Dental dentists can provide a range of dental treatments for your child, depending on what oral health issues they have. But we also offer treatment options that can prevent most of these issues from occurring in the first place. Fissure sealants are one such treatment. They can safeguard your child’s teeth, and help keep them strong and healthy.

TC-dental-group-fissure-sealants

What are fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants (or dental sealants) are an acrylic coating that is applied to the natural fissures and pits on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.

How do fissure sealants work?

Fissures, grooves and pits are hot spots for the accumulation of food residue that may be hard to reach with a tooth brush – especially if they are deep and narrow. When food residue accumulates in these areas, plaque and bacteria can form and can cause tooth decay and cavities.

Fissure sealants fill in fissures, and form a hard, smooth protective shield over them. This prevents food and bacteria from penetrating into these areas.

Fissure sealant treatment

A fissure sealant treatment is a fairly straight forward dental procedure that requires minimal prep.

First, the tooth or teeth are thoroughly cleaned to remove any plaque and bacteria. They are then coated with a special gel solution that is allowed to dry, after which the acrylic sealant is applied, and cured with a UV light that activates and hardens the sealant. The whole process usually takes a few minutes per tooth.

Do fissure sealants last a long time?

Yes, they do – several years in fact. However, depending on what or how your child eats and chews, fissure sealants may wear out over time, in which case, your dentist may need to re-apply more and check for any signs of decay. When you take your child in for their regular dental visit, your dentist will check for any changes.

When is the right age for children to receive fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants are usually applied to children’s teeth when they are between the ages of 6 and 14 years old. But the rule of thumb, since all children develop differently, is to get your dentist to apply fissure sealants as soon as any of your child’s permanent back teeth emerge.

If you feel that your child would benefit from fissure sealants, consult with our dentists or hygienists during your child’s next visit. They will be able to identify which of your child’s teeth are suitable for treatment, as well as the right time to have them sealed.

The worst foods and drinks for tooth sensitivity

The worst foods and drinks for tooth sensitivity

The most prevalent factors that contribute to tooth sensitivity are the foods we eat, and the beverages we drink. There are two main effects that food and beverages have on tooth sensitivity:

  1. Foods (and drinks) that are hot, cold, sweet and/or sour can trigger a brief episode of sharp pain because of their temperature and chemical properties.
  2. Consuming refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar and starch, as well as sweetened beverages, can lead to plaque formation, tooth decay and dental erosion – all of which expose tooth roots and pulp, and increase the potential for tooth sensitivity.

In other words, there are foods that trigger tooth sensitivity, and foods that cause it.

But beware, there are also foods that pack a double whammy – foods (and drinks) that cause tooth decay and/or erosion, while triggering and increasing tooth sensitivity episodes at the same time.

By recognising and understanding how to regulate your consumption of these hot/ cold/sweet/ sour combination foods, you can actively keep your oral PH neutral – and avoid subjecting your tooth enamel to destructive high acid PH levels for sustained periods of time.

If you have tooth sensitivity, try to avoid the following foods and beverages to help minimise and prevent the causes and symptoms of tooth sensitivity:

  • Soft drinks (including alcohol and artificially sweetened sports and diet soft drinks).
  • Hot sweet coffee.
  • Hard or chewy candy (especially citrus varieties with granulated sugar)
  • Ice cream and gelato.
  • Citrus fruit (incl. lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges and grapes)
  • Processed fruit juices (incl. orange and cranberry)
  • Tomatoes
  • Icy frozen drinks or slushies

TC-dental-group-tooth-sensitivity-Attractive

It should be noted that natural acidic foods have numerous health benefits for our general health and well-being that you shouldn’t miss out on.

To continue enjoying these foods, brush your teeth with desensitising toothpaste to strengthen your tooth enamel, and protect your teeth from tooth sensitivity. If your tooth sensitivity problems persist or intensify, seek professional advice from your dentist.

What are the treatment options for periodontal (gum) disease?

What are the treatment options for periodontal (gum) disease?

Periodontal disease is all too common in Australia, and chances are, you may have some form of the disease if you are aged over 45. Once you have it, it’s unlikely that you’ll be cured completely, since it is a chronic condition much like diabetes. But with ongoing periodontal maintenance, you can control the condition and prevent a recurrence of its more severe form.

One of the main treatment goals when dealing with gum disease is to control the bacterial infection as soon as possible, and prevent any further damage to your teeth, gums and bone.

There are a number of treatment methods used to treat different stages of the disease.

In its earlier stages, all that may be required is a deep clean, but as plaque, tartar and bacteria penetrate deep below the gum line, more complicated treatment methods may be required. Additionally, keeping up good oral care and hygiene at home is vitally important to prevent plaque and tartar from building up again, and to improve dental treatment outcomes.

The main treatment options for periodontal disease:

  • Deep cleaning is a professional dental clean of tooth surfaces that may include fluoride and polish treatments.
  • Scaling is a method where dental tools are used to scrap off and halt the progression of tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gum line.
  • Root planing is a deeper cleaning procedure used to remove plaque and tartar from periodontal pockets below the gum line. This method smooths out rough tooth root surfaces, which allows gum tissue to heal and reattach firmly to tooth surfaces, and prevent redevelopment of plaque and tartar.
  •  
    TC-Dental-Group-Upper_Mt_Gravatt-Perio-Treatment-Brsibane

  • Antibiotics and medication may be required to treat bacterial infection that has not responded to deep cleaning and oral hygiene treatment.
  • Gingival flap surgery is required if tartar and bacteria are located near the root of the affected tooth. The gums are surgically separated and folded back temporarily from the teeth to allow a dentist to remove plaque and tartar, treat bacteria and repair damage due to gum disease. Then the gum “flap” is repositioned, so that the gum can heal and reattach to your tooth.
  • Bone and gum tissue grafts can be used during flap surgery to promote bone regeneration and replace recessed gum tissue.
  • Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are used to replace teeth lost to periodontal disease. Once implanted in the jaw, a crown is attached and the damaged tooth is restored to its normal function and appearance.
  • Reassessment and periodontal maintenance care are used to monitor a patient’s periodontal health, and help prevent periodontal disease from reoccurring in patients who have undergone periodontal or dental implant treatment.

Playing it safe with a custom mouthguard

Playing it safe with a custom mouthguard

Can you imagine your front tooth getting knocked out while playing your favourite sport? How about experiencing a fractured jaw or concussion?

Sports-related oral injuries and trauma are among the most common experienced by athletes – young and old, and of any ability. In Australia, thousands of adults and children are treated for emergency oral injury and trauma each year.

Participation in a number of sports or physical activities may increase the risk of oral injury, including the following:

  • Contact sports – rugby, touch football, hockey, volleyball, polo, soccer, basketball, netball, boxing, martial arts, wrestling, weightlifting, basketball, baseball and cricket.
  • Non-contact sports – gymnastics, acrobatics, track & field, cycling, skiing and squash.
  • Recreational activities – climbing, mountain biking, skateboarding, roller-blading, horse riding, sky diving and surfing.

Essentially, any sport or activity with the possibility of contact with another player or a hard surface carries a higher risk of oral injury. The damage occurs when your mouth or chin area sustains a strong blow or impact during a game or even at training.

Wearing the right mouthguard – when playing contact sports or undertaking risky recreational activities – is important if you want to prevent serious oral injury to your teeth, jaw, mouth, lips, tongue and inner cheeks.

How do mouthguards work?

Mouthguards are worn to provide protection for both the hard oral tissue (teeth and jaw bone) and soft oral tissue (lips, tongue, cheeks and gums). Mouthguards help to absorb, spread and dissipate the impact forces of a blow or direct hit to the mouth and chin area. They also help stabilise the head and neck at the same time.

Some other benefits from wearing a protective mouthguard include the following:

  • Helps prevents concussion. Concussions occur when the lower jaw hinge impacts forcefully up into the base of the skull. Mouthguards act as “shock absorbers” and can cushion blows to the chin.
  • Prevents contact between your upper and lower teeth and jaws.
  • Saves on dental costs. By preventing oral injury, your investment in a mouthguard can save you thousands of dollars in emergency and restorative dental treatment costs.
  • More confidence during the game. The psychological benefits of full-mouth protection can help players who are overcautious or hesitant during a game.
  • Protects or minimises damage to existing dental work (crowns, bridges) or fixtures (braces).

 
Tc-dental-group-mouth-gurad-contact-sports

Choosing the right mouthguard

You have a choice of custom-made mouthguards from your dentist or over-the-counter “boil and bite” mouthguards, when it comes to buying a mouthguard. But not all mouthguards are created equal.

According to research by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), the level of protection provided by a mouthguard bought from a sporting goods store or chemist was no match for a custom properly-fitted mouthguard made by a dentist.

The results of their study in 2014 showed that football players who wore over-the-counter mouthguards suffered more than twice the number of concussions compared to players wearing custom-made ones.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) also recommends the use of a custom-made mouthguard for all Australians participating in sports and activities that carry a high risk of oral injury.

TC Dental custom-made mouthguards

At TC Dental, we take the job of making your custom-made mouthguard very seriously. We ensure that each of our patients has a personal mouthguard that provides the highest degree of fit, protection and comfort.

When you come in to have your mouthguard made up, we take a dental impression of your teeth for starters. From this impression, a precise cast is made, which our on-site dental laboratory technician uses to design and create your own uniquely-fitted mouthguard. Your TC dentist also provides you with care advice and follow-up mouthguard assessments at your regular check-ups.

If you want to protect the teeth of you and your family with a custom-fitted mouthguard, call our friendly team at TC Dental on (07) 3349 9334 to schedule an appointment. We’ll have you playing safer in time for your next game.

How electric toothbrushes can improve your oral health

How electric toothbrushes can improve your oral health

Manual toothbrushes have served us well as an effective tool to maintain and improve our oral health for centuries. They are inexpensive, easy to buy and portable which means you can brush your teeth anytime and anywhere. When a suitable manual toothbrush is used correctly in a regular oral care routine – for a full two minutes each time, twice a day – you can easily achieve your oral health goals.

But that’s easier said than done nowadays. Why? A lot of us – young and old – are in a hurry to get things done.

Our busy modern lifestyles have made it increasingly difficult to perform a thorough brushing session. We just squeeze the toothpaste on to our cheap toothbrush, and perform a quick once-over and rinse, before heading out.

Over time, being negligent about your oral health in this way, only leads to oral health problems – unless you start using an electric toothbrush.

Consider these facts. The average number of strokes per minute when you use a manual toothbrush is about 200 repetitions. The latest electric toothbrushes can brush at up to 30,000 strokes per minute. If you only had a minute to brush your teeth, which brush would you choose? The one that brushes 30,000 or 200 times a minute? It’s a no-brainer.

Speaking of no-brainers, when you use an electric toothbrush, it’s been described as “brainless brushing”. That’s because all you have to do is move your electric from tooth to tooth. If you lose track of time, most electrics have a timer function that lets you know when your two minutes is up.
But that’s not all.

Concerned that the whirring “plaque-busting” bristles will carve out your gums? No worries. Modern electrics are very gentle, and even have pressure indicators that let you know the moment you brush too hard – thus avoiding potential damage to your tooth enamel and gums. They also have different head movement modes, such as ultrasonic, side-to-side, and circular to effectively remove plaque.

The very latest electric toothbrushes can even upload “brush-time and brush-stroke” data to your dentist via Wi-Fi! This allows your dentist to keep a record of your brushing habits. These records can assist them to conduct a more informed dental examination and assessment at your next check-up.

Electric toothbrushes are here to stay. They offer a number of advantages over manual toothbrushes. In short, they do all the work for you. Older adults with worsening fine motor skills and dexterity issues may find it easier to use an electric toothbrush. People with disabilities and kids wearing braces can benefit as well. Some electrics even teach kids how to brush.

TC-dental-group-Electric-brush-choice

The biggest drawback for many people when it comes to electric toothbrushes is paying the extra money – they can cost up to $300. There are also the replacement heads to buy. However, when you start to consider electrics as a long-term investment in your oral health, you’ll realise that they help prevent oral health issues that can be far more expensive to treat.

Consult with your dentist if you are still uncertain about your electric toothbrush options. They can offer you the right advice, recommend the type of electric toothbrush that best fits your oral health needs – and show you how to use it to achieve a super clean and healthy smile!

Keep your teeth healthier this winter – with a little ray of sunshine!

Keep your teeth healthier this winter – with a little ray of sunshine!

Winter has long been associated with catching the flu, stuffy noses and staying indoors. Trouble is, when you don’t get enough sun exposure, you run the risk of experiencing a vitamin D deficiency – which increases your risk of cavities, especially by late winter and early spring.

Your bare skin is designed to produce the correct amount of vitamin D that you need – when it is exposed to the right amount of sunlight.

But in winter we tend to cover up and stay indoors. By late winter, your body may experience lower levels of vitamin D, which makes your body more vulnerable to a range of health problems, including tooth cavities.

Why does a vitamin D deficiency cause tooth cavities?

Receptors throughout your body absorb vitamin D, which in turn promotes the absorption of calcium. Your body needs calcium because it is an essential component of strong teeth and bones.

When your teeth do not get enough calcium, your tooth enamel weakens, making them more prone to tooth cavities.

How do my teeth absorb vitamin D and calcium?

Your teeth have vitamin D receptors that are located within the cells responsible for forming tooth enamel and dentin.

The vitamin D, absorbed by these receptors, makes calcium and phosphate available to the cells. The cells go on to convert these two minerals into enamel and dentine. This remineralisation process improves the strength of your teeth, and prevents demineralisation from plaque acid.

The benefits don’t stop there.

When vitamin D is absorbed by the receptors in your teeth, “good” anti-microbial proteins are produced also. These proteins fight off the cariogenic oral bacteria that are responsible for creating tooth cavities.

What is the right amount of sun exposure to beat a vitamin D deficiency?

During winter, light skinned Australians should expose their bare skin (about two arms worth) to sunlight for between 10 – 30 min per day for their vitamin D needs. If you have dark skin, you’ll need between 20 min – 3 hrs per day. These times vary depending on your skin type and location in Australia.

Since it is winter and overall UV levels are low, the recommended time of the day is between 10 am to 2pm. Sunscreen should be avoided since it prevents the skin from producing vitamin D.

TC-dental-group-Vit-D-BLOG

Foods that boost your vitamin D levels

If you don’t have many opportunities to bask in the winter sun, try eating more mushrooms, eggs, oily fish (including salmon, mackerel and tuna), cheese and fortified grains for a vitamin D boost.
Vitamin D supplementation is also an option; though consult your doctor first for more advice.

References

  1. Youssef, D., C. Miller, A. El-Abbassi, D. Cutchins, C. Cutchins, W. Grant, and A. Peiris. “Antimicrobial Implications of Vitamin D.” Dermatoendocrinology 3.4 (2011): 220-29
  2. Grant, W.B. “A Review of the Role of Solar Ultraviolet-B Irradiance and Vitamin D in Reducing Risk of Dental Caries”. Dermatoendocrinology 3.3 (2011): 193-98.
  3. Hujoel, P. “Vitamin D and dental caries in controlled clinical trials: systematic review and meta-analysis.” Nutrition Reviews 71.2 (2013): 88-97.
  4. Australian Vitamin D Sunshine Map, Page 2, Vitamin D Consumer guide. Link: https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/sites/default/files/files/oa_consumer_vitd_ed3_09-16.pdf

The transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child

The transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child

Most parents should already be aware of the main oral health strategies that help promote and maintain good oral health in children.

They include the following:

  • establishing good oral care and hygiene habits at an early age, such as brushing their teeth with fluoride toothpaste
  • setting up a trusted dental home for your child by 12 months of age, where they can feel safe, familiar and comfortable with their dentist, treatment and dental environment.
  • ensuring your child follows a dentist-approved diet that does not contribute to tooth decay.
  • regular dental check-ups and cleans every six months.

But there is one other recommendation that most parents and caregivers (about 90%) aren’t aware of – preventing the transmission of cariogenic (cavity-causing) bacteria.

In other words, if you have active tooth decay, you can pass the nasty oral bacteria associated with it, directly onto your child. And it’s important to keep in mind – baby teeth are very susceptible to decay while erupting because tooth enamel is still very soft at this stage.

Numerous clinical studies over the last 30 years have documented the link between the oral health conditions experienced by the primary caregivers and the risk factor for early childhood caries (ECC) in young children.

One study by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) in 2011 showed that high maternal levels of the mutans streptococci bacteria (MS) correlated with the early colonisation of their child’s oral cavity by the bacteria. The results of the study also showed that the same strains of MS were present in both mother and child.

Choice dental Browns plains dentist Baby kiss

The transfer of bacteria from mothers (and fathers) to their young child occurs mainly through salivary contact. There are a number of ways for this to happen while giving care and socially interacting with the child:

  • kissing an infant’s lips, or “nibbling” on their fingers and toes
  • unhygienic physical contact
  • sharing eating and drinking utensils, including cups and spoons
  • pre-chewing food for infants
  • blowing on a baby’s food to cool it down – just wait a bit!
  • sharing the consumption of the same food item
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • toothbrush to toothbrush contact – when in storage
  • cleaning pacifiers orally

It’s not just the parents who can introduce potentially cariogenic bacteria into their young child’s mouth – family members, daycare staff and other children may all play a part in transmission.

Although salivary contact between a parent and their child is pretty much unavoidable, there are ways to lessen its impact.

To help prevent or delay the initial transmission, colonisation and proliferation of cariogenic bacteria in infants, toddlers and young children – the AAPD researchers recommended the following steps:

  1. Ensure that caregivers and others in close physical contact with the child have good oral health and low levels of oral bacteria. Caregivers should make sure that they are free of active tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.
  2. Prevent or limit activities and interactions where there is a high risk of salivary sharing, transfer or contact – especially with a caregiver who has poor oral health or high levels of infectious oral bacteria.
  3. Chewing citrus-free xylitol chewing gum 2 or 3 times per day (by the caregiver) significantly reduces the oral bacterial transmission rate.
  4. Parents can improve their own dietary and oral care habits to help reduce the risk of bacterial transmission.

And for all those parents (and grandparents) who are habitual baby kissers, try kissing your baby’s belly button – just until you get the all clear from your dentist.