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Many of today’s children are being reared by both their parents and grandparents in order to meet the demands of tight family schedules and even tighter financial situations. Not every caregiver is aware of the ever-changing guidelines that protect children against injury or illness, including information that has come to light regarding pacifiers.

Parents should be aware that bacteria that cause dental decay can be transmitted from adult to child by sharing eating utensils or by the parent sucking on a baby’s pacifier to clean it. A study recently published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, about the immunological benefits of adult saliva does not, according to the American Dental Association, provide the full picture that adult saliva may also contain bacteria that causes decay. The ADA notes that licking a pacifier, as promoted in the study, can transfer the cavity-causing bacteria from the parent to baby, increasing the possibility of tooth decay as they grow.

“A child’s teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they begin to erupt,” said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Maine and a pediatric dental spokesperson for the ADA. “Cavity-causing bacteria, especially Streptococcus mutants, can be transferred from adult saliva to children, increasing their risk of getting cavities.”

Dr. Shenkin points to other steps that parents can take to help children develop a healthy immune system. “Breast milk is widely acknowledged as a good immunity-builder as well as the most complete form of nutrition for infants. This is something on which both the ADA and the AAP agree.”

The ADA recommends that parents protect the dental Health of young children by promoting a healthy diet, monitoring their intake of food and drink, brushing their teeth or wiping gums after mealtimes and by having infants finish their bedtime or nap time bottle before going to bed. Children should receive their first dental visit within six months of eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age. For more information, visit the ADA’s consumer website www.MouthHealthy.org.

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Tags: Featured Story, Health, Infant & Baby, Parenting


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