At Dr. Simon Pong, we often get asked whether kissing can cause cavities in children. The fact is that tooth decay is a bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus Mutans which is passed from person to person through saliva.
The most common ways that Streptococcus Mutans (SM) can be passed between people is by sharing cups, glasses, and utensils, by sharing food, by kissing, and with baby pacifiers.
When are children most at risk of developing cavities?
Children are most at risk of getting cavities in infancy and during tooth eruption. This is the time that baby teeth are most vulnerable.
How does sharing food transfer bacteria that causes cavities?
Sharing food can transfer SM if one person takes a bite of the food before sharing with your child. Sharing drinks and utensils make it easy for the bacteria to be transferred from person to person.
Can I give my child Streptococcus Mutans (SM) by kissing them?
Kissing your baby or child on the mouth is the most common way to transfer the Streptococcus Mutans (SM) bacteria.
Kissing children on the mouth should be avoided by parents and other persons especially during the early months and years when a child’s immune system is weaker than adults — weaker immune systems are more susceptible to disease and infection.
Children can be at risk as early as 4-6 months of age when the first teeth erupt and as late as 12 years old when the molars erupt.
How can I prevent Streptococcus Mutans (SM) from getting on my baby’s pacifier?
If your baby’s pacifier falls to the floor, and there isn’t any running water to clean off the pacifier, don’t place the pacifier in your mouth before giving it back to baby. Doing this is an easy way to transfer cavity-causing bacteria to your child.