As a parent, it’s normal to want to smother your baby with kisses — but one prominent dentist is saying you should steer clear of kissing them on the lips.
Dr. Richard Marques, a well-known dentist in London, England, says parents should refrain from kissing their children on the lips before their baby teeth have developed, to avoid spreading harmful bacteria.
“Saliva transfer from parent to child is a risk as this can spread bacteria (such as streptococcus mutans) from adult to child,” Marques told The Independent. “This bacteria can cause decay of baby teeth… It can even affect the soft tissues and gums before the baby teeth have developed.”
Marques says baby teeth are particularly prone to infection because don’t have the same strength as adult teeth when it comes to fighting bacteria.
“Baby teeth have a different type of enamel and dentine to adult teeth,” said Marques. “The enamel is much thinner on baby teeth. It is not as strong as adult enamel so is more likely to decay.”
Kissing children on the lips is a controversial topic for a number of reasons (just ask Tom Brady or Victoria Beckham), but regardless of where you stand, there’s no denying that a number of infections that can be spread from mouth-to-mouth contact. The common cold, flu and cold sores can all be spread in that way.
Alongside no longer kissing your children on the lips, Marques also suggests parents stop sharing cutlery with their children and blowing on their food to cool it.
When it comes to the dental health of children, the dentist recommends preventative action by way of regular visits to the dentist and cutting back on sugar.
“Take your child to the dentist regularly,” said Marques. “By age two to three they should be attending the dentist every six months to check for cavities… Prevention is the key. We would rather help children to not get cavities in the first place!”