Yes--children’s teeth fall out and they get new adult teeth in place. But no--this does not mean that we can let the baby teeth rot away with sugar because “they’re gonna come out anyway”! That logic is kind of like eating a bacon cheeseburger right before open-heart surgery to clear the arteries. (Which we’re not advocating for!)
In the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health newsletter, (an Academy of which Dr. Blum is a founding member), another member Dr. Ellie Phillips wrote an article on Pediatric Oral Health (click for the original article), and there are a few points that the article made we thought might be good to share here!
Transmission of Dental Disease
Dental caries is a bacterial infection that is shared as bacteria spread from a parent’s mouth to children. (From mouth to bloodstream, and via placenta to fetus). Newly erupting teeth are easily infected, although preventing this infection will offer profound and long-term health benefits for a family. Children born by caesarean section are at greater risk for this infection, a finding most likely explained by the fact that bacteria from the birth canal provide protection against strep.mutans infection.
Dental disease will be controlled most easily if protocols are explained to parents before the disease has transmitted to the baby. This means the message must be delivered during preg- nancy or at early “well child” pediatric visits. Parents most often seek advice from a dentist too late - after cavity-producing bacteria have caused damage.
Tooth Eruption (aka incoming new teeth)
Oral bacteria quickly colonize erupting teeth and studies show that the first bacteria to colo- nize grooved and fissured teeth become the dominant strain of strep. mutans in the mouth (9). Ensuring a healthy oral flora prior to the eruption of molar teeth (primary and adult) is vital for oral health as it has been shown to reduce a child’s chance of tooth decay by up to 80%. This method of caries control is less costly than sealant placement and may be more appropriate for communities with limited access to care (10).
Healthy Flora as Teeth Erupt
Pediatric studies show that children with decay in primary molars at age 4 are 85% more likely to have a lifetime of damage in their permanent dentition. Knowing the importance of infection during eruption explains why this is so. Permanent molars erupt during the fifth year of life and if grooves of these teeth become infected, damaging bacteria will colonize the grooves and dominate the oral flora. The concept of cultivating a healthy oral flora before adult molar erup- tion (1-6 years of age) is of extreme importance and can reduce the chance of caries by 80% (11).
So in summary, in-utero and pediatric oral health matters!
Please feel welcome to get in touch for more information on in-utero/pediatric oral health and wellness practices!