It’s not uncommon for the dentist to hear some variation of this line: 

“My child got her bad teeth from her (fill-in-the-blank) side of the family.” 

Usually, when I hear parents say this, I just smile and don’t further acknowledge it. While I understand where it’s coming from, the sentiment discounts the personal role that we can take as parents in preventing our children’s dental decay. However, this approach doesn’t fully take advantage of this educational opportunity. Allow me to explain….

Spreading dental caries

Most people don’t realize dental decay is actually an infectious disease called caries, and that infectious disease process is contagious. If you share spoons, straws, food, or clean a pacifier off in your mouth before giving it to your baby, or any other number of alternatives, you can spread caries from yourself to your child. This transcommunication can also occur between siblings who share spoons, straws, toothbrushes (hey, it happens!), or put the same toys in their mouths. 

In general, best practices are to not share anything that’s been in your mouth or anyone else’s mouth with your child. This is especially true when you know that you have cavities that need to be addressed.

As parents, we want what’s best for our kids. Genetics, though a factor in our susceptibility to dental caries, doesn’t seem to play as big of a role in the development of dental caries as poor oral hygiene and nutritional habits do. But I actually think it is empowering to know that we have the ability to wield an incredible amount of influence over our children’s oral and overall health. 


Learn more about how your child can avoid cavities at their next appointment.

Want to know more? Schedule an appointment today to discuss your child’s oral health and and how to promote healthy habits.