Harmful germs that grow on teeth and gums cause tooth decay and gingivitis (gum disease). These germs can be passed into the mouths of your infants or toddlers mouth during routine play, sharing foods and utensils, in addition to other daily activities.
Your desire for good oral health will encourage your children to follow good oral habits as they grow. So giving them a good start is important.
Don't pass on germs
Reducing the number of germs that cause decay and gingivitis in your mouth reduces the risk of passing these harmful germs on to your baby or toddler. This reduces their risk of contracting these problems.
For example, kissing the baby near the mouth can pass on pathogens (disease causing organisms), especially viruses. It must be noted that certain oral bacteria are essential for good health. These helpful organisms are called commensils. Other organisms are pathogens and are disease causing.
If a parent has these in his / her mouth and, for example, blows on food to cool it and then feeds the baby - pathogens can be introduced into the baby’s mouth.
Likewise, certain organisms spread by droplet infection and close contact can facilitate this. Often bacteria in the mouth, which usually cause no harm, become pathogenic when resistance is lowered e.g. by herpes or HIV. These organisms are called opportunists. Cleaning your mouth daily helps to remove these harmful germs and foods.
The daily routine should include brushing your teeth, tongue and gums as well as flossing your teeth at least twice day. Cleaning your teeth before going to sleep removes the build-up of food and germs from the day and helps your mouth recover. Regular dental visits will also ensure that any problems that need attention are minimised and do not become major problems.
Source: South African Dental Association