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Ways to prevent tooth decay in babies - one example, don't "clean" your child's pacifier with your saliva

Tooth decay is actually an infectious disease that is transmitted from caregiver to child between the ages of 6 and 36 months of age. A bacteria called mutans streptococci is mainly responsible. Babies are born without this bacteria but become infected through intimate contact (sharing utensils, etc.) with caregivers (usually mothers). Ways to prevent tooth decay in young children: * Do not share utensils (spoons, straws, etc.) with your child.

* If you are pregnant or contemplating getting pregnant see your dentist Women with high levels of tooth decay have high levels of bacteria which can be passed to their babies.

* Take your child to the dentist early, around your child's first birthday.

* Clean your child's mouth after feeding. Wipe the gums and teeth of infants with clean gauze or cloth and brush the teeth of older children with a small toothbrush. No toothpaste is needed before the age of 2 years.

For more information on early childhood oral health contact the Arizona Department of Health Services, Bureau of Oral Health