Parents Can Pass Harmful Oral Bacteria to Their Kids

family dentistry in McKinney, TX

At our family dentistry in McKinney, TX, Dr. Lawrence works to help patients better understand the best habits for protecting the health of their teeth and gums. Not only does a healthy smile mean a healthier body, parents can also help to better protect their kids’ oral health if they enjoy quality oral health.

Adults with periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, can pass bacteria that can cause future cases of gum disease on to their children. That bacteria can then remain in a child’s mouth even after they undergo treatment. The fact parents can pass negative oral health traits on to their children reinforces the need for preventive dental care within the first year of a child’s life, claim a research team from the University of Campinas in Sao Paulo.

The results of this latest study were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Parents’ Oral Health a Transferable Trait

Severe gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a chronic inflammation of the periodontium, the soft tissues in the mouth that support the teeth and the underlying bone structure that holds everything in position. The disease is caused by a bacterial infection. Symptoms including bleeding gums and swollen and sensitive gum tissue. In extreme cases, the infection causes teeth to begin moving and shifting in the mouth, with eventual tooth loss the outcome.

If the bacteria responsible for gum disease enters a patient’s bloodstream, the bacteria may travel to other points of the body and cause inflammation. Inflammation that takes roots in the heart or brain can lead to the development of heart disease or stroke.

Reducing the risk of periodontitis requires receiving dental care at our family dentistry in McKinney, TX. During visits, patients will receive a cleaning of the pockets along the gum line where harmful oral bacteria may buildup and contribute to the development of gum disease.

“The parents’ oral microbiome is a determinant of the subgingival microbial colonization of their children,” wrote the research team. Researchers noted that parents with periodontitis can pass along the harmful bacteria to their children’s mouth. Not only do the kids receive this bacteria, they receive an incredibly resilient strain that remains viable in the mouth even after a cleaning.

While the mother was more likely to pass the genetic markers for harmful oral bacteria on to their children, researchers found that a father could also pass on the bacterial profile.

“Because the parents had periodontitis, their children assumed this community with disease characteristics,” wrote the team.

The results of this study suggest that parents need to make their own oral health a priority, especially the mother, in order to reduce their kids’ risk of developing their oral health with a predisposition to disease.

A Healthy Mouth for the Entire Family

Transferring harmful oral bacteria from parent to child can occur in multiple ways, not just genetically.

For example, if a parent washes off a pacifier or bottle nipple by placing the item in their own mouth, the bacteria present can hitch a ride and move onto the mouth of a child. If a parent has gum disease, this simple act can facilitate the transfer of harmful oral bacteria from their mouth to that of their child.

As a general rule, parents are not recommended to place anything in both their mouth and the mouth of their child to prevent this type of spread.

Additionally, both members of the family should continue to receive regular dental care at our family dentistry in McKinney, TX. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that parents schedule their child’s first dental appointment by the age of one. While this may seem like an early age for kids to visit the dentist, early appointments offer a variety of advantages.

By taking a child to see Dr. Lawrence early on in their oral development, they can begin to get more comfortable with visiting a dentist and avoid any anxiety that kids can experience if their first visit isn’t until later in life. Early care also allows Dr. Lawrence to closely monitor and track a child’s oral health development so he can spot any troubling signs early on and treat them accordingly.

Enjoying a health smile that lasts a lifetime requires receiving regular dental care from a young age. To ensure your child enjoys a healthy, attractive smile, take the first step by ensuring your own smile remains as healthy as possible.