By Susan Braden
Believe it or not, cavities are contagious! A cavity infection, like other infections or diseases, can have a perpetual effect on your kid's mouths. The expensive, painful effects of cavities on your family may may lead to less than affordable dental care, and long-term oral health issues. Do you know that you could be spreading this infection to your children on a daily basis? Read on to learn how cavities actually spread, and how to fight a cavity infection.
1. Know the Facts. Your children can catch your cavities like they catch your colds, because cavities are also the result of a transmissible bacterial infection. Studies even show that the #1 chronic health problem among kids is dental decay, which may even appear as early as the first baby tooth. The culprit bacterium is known as strep mutans.
You can spread cavities by kissing your kids, or through other close interactions that transmit even a saliva drop from your mouth to your child's, like when speaking closely to your little one. Age 6 months to 3 years is when children are most susceptible to developing cavities, according to oral health professionals. Despite the prevalence of strep mutans, family lifestyle changes and preventative, affordable dental care may slow the spread of tooth decay from you to your kids.
2. Watch your family's eating habits. To best prevent cavities, sharing is not caring. Do not share food or drinks with your child. Adults spread more cavity-causing bacteria to their children than what grows in their kid's own mouths! Sharing utensils is also a no-no. In addition, limit your child's intake of sugary foods and juices. Only give your child sweet drinks at mealtimes with foods that help scrape the sugar off teeth.
3. Check out playmates and caretakers. Any caretaker or babysitter with whom your child spends long periods of time with may be infecting them with cavities. Your child may even catch cavities from their playmates if they suck on utensils or toys that have been in more than one mouth.
4. Get your kids dental sealants. Research has found that the application of sealant can prevent a large percentage of cavities in children and young teens. Sealants are clear coatings that cover surfaces of your kid's teeth, and sometimes even contain fluoride for additional protection.
5. Make sure your kids brush! Some dentists say that until your children can write their names in cursive, they do not yet have the motor skills to brush all of the sticky plaque from their teeth on their own. Remember that even baby formulas contain sugar -- so begin gently wiping your infant's gums after mealtimes.
6. Take responsibility for your own oral hygiene. Though you may care about your children more than yourself, you still need to take care of both your teeth and theirs. Attend routine checkups at an affordable dental care provider to ensure that your mouth is spreading as little decay as possible. Mothers tend to attend more appointments than fathers do, so moms, make sure your husbands visit the dentist too!
7. Use antimicrobial rinses. These prescription rinses kill strep mutans' cell membrane, to lower its levels in your mouth for the best interests of your kids!
8. Chew gum. Xylitol is sugar substitute found in some chewing gums that often prevents strep mutans from attaching to your teeth to begin decay. Chewing gum with high xylitol levels often may stop the transmission of bacteria from mother to child, similar to the effect of antimicrobial prescription rinses.
Families are beginning to investigate tooth decay prevention methods and affordable dental care to halt the transmission of cavity-causing strep mutans. Practice proper oral hygiene to halt contagious cavities in your own mouth, even if you care about your children's oral health more than your own. One day, your little ones can thank you for your investment in cavity prevention, leading to long-term dental health!