Parenting always involves a balancing act between keeping your child happy and protecting their health. Some parents think that they have found the perfect solution in one situation, but new evidence shows that their attempts to protect their child from germs could actually be exposing the infant to harmful bacteria.
ADA Warning to Parents
The American Dental Association recently warned parents that putting a pacifier in their own mouth in an attempt to remove dirt could put children at risk of dental decay. Many parents adopt this practice because they mistakenly think that their saliva will remove germs from the pacifier, but the ADA’s verdict is that the risks far outweigh the benefits.
Bacteria Cause Decay
The problem with this on-the-fly method of cleaning is that it leads to the parent’s saliva being transferred to the baby’s mouth. Saliva in an adult’s mouth is filled with a wide range of bacterial species, some of which contribute to dental decay. By putting these bacteria into their child’s mouth, parents are exposing their kids to an increased risk of cavities and other dental health problems.
Children’s Teeth Matter
Even while babies and toddlers do not yet have their permanent teeth – or even any teeth at all – introducing new oral bacteria is still potentially harmful. Once bacteria have set up a colony in a baby’s mouth, they can lie in wait for the first teeth to appear. Once the teeth have come through the gums, the waste produced by the bacteria as they break down sugars starts to wear away the enamel, leading to cavities. A tooth that is badly damaged, whether it is a baby tooth or a permanent one, can be very painful.
Protecting Your Child’s Dental Health
The best way to clean pacifiers before giving them back to children is to sterilize them in boiling water. Keep a spare pacifier close at all times, so that you can simply replace the one that has been dirtied until it can be cleaned. This approach reduces the risk of bacteria getting into the child’s mouth, therefore protecting them from dental decay