Why You Can Blame Your Parents for Your Cavities…
The fight against strep mutans
Did you know that babies aren’t actually born with tooth decay-causing bacteria in their mouths – but are infected with it down the line?
The bacteria, “mutans streptococcus”, or “strep mutans”/ “s.mutans” for short, is actually passed down from our parents or caregivers via saliva (more often from our mothers than our fathers). This can happen more easily than you think – through sharing a kiss, sharing bites of food, eating from the same utensil, drinking from the same cup, using the same toothbrush… the list goes on. Think of it like a contagious virus or flu – except once the baby’s mouth becomes infected, there’s unfortunately no turning back.
But don’t fret – strep mutans have enemies, too.
While s.mutans may not be able to get the boot once a person is infected, the good news is, the harmful effects of these bacteria can be prevented through proper oral hygiene care. Our downtown Toronto dentists stresses brushing the teeth twice daily for two full minutes (120 seconds!) each time, flossing once a day, and seeing your dentist and hygienist regularly for professional check-ups and cleanings. This also means limiting your intake of sugars and carbohydrates – because this is precisely what fuels the s.mutans to attack the teeth – NOT the sugars themselves!
An enjoyable way to fight strep mutans: XYLITOL!
Ever heard of Xylitol? This sugar substitute has been proven to aid in the prevention of tooth decay when the teeth are exposed to it for certain lengths of time. So chew away in addition to a proper oral hygiene routine! (But keep the ingredient far far away from pets – for them, it can be deadly.) For decay-active expecting mothers, it may be beneficial to regularly chew Xylitol leading up the birth of your child so that when the baby is born, the risk of s.mutan transmission will be lower.
Concerned about your cavity risk?
Smelly breath and a poor oral environment need not be a problem of yours! Just ensure you’re brushing twice a day for two full minutes each time, and don’t forget to floss once daily, as well!
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