Is your spit giving your baby cavities?

Jun 28, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Even Alicia Silverstone has been known to give her kiddo food from her mouth, but could your spit be destroying your little one's baby teeth?

Known as saliva transfer, you could pass bacteria from your mouth to your child's simply through routine things almost every parent is known to do.

From blowing on food to kissing your cutie on the lips, learn the ways that your saliva can cause your baby to develop cavities.

Learn how saliva transfer happens

You may not give everyday interactions with your baby much thought, but in reality, you could be filling her gummy grin with your spit. Although you may not be drooling in her mouth, common sources of saliva transfer can happen when you take a bite of your food before feeding it to your baby, share utensils with your little one, project small drops of spit into your toddler's food when blowing it off or even kiss your youngster on her precious lips. Although you may thinking that it's no big deal because you're family, when you inadvertently pass your saliva to your baby, you may be passing on the bacteria Streptococcus mutans which could lead to pediatric cavities.

Your spit may not be the only offender; is bottled water contributing to your child's cavities too? >>

Understand pediatric cavities

Your bundle of joy may only have cut a tooth or two, but when it comes to baby teeth, your youngster is never too young to fall victim to cavities. "Acid production from bacteria in the mouth erodes the surface of the tooth... causing decay," said Dr. Catherine Quas, pediatric dentist and orthodontist from Bluefish Dental & Orthodontics. So, even when your kiddo isn't drinking juice or sucking on lollipops, Streptococcus mutans bacteria from your own spit may attack her pearly whites and cause cavities through saliva transfer. The good news is that only parents and caregivers with active tooth decay can spread the enamel-destroying bacteria. However, unless you've just come home from the dentist with a clean bill of dental health, you may want to steer clear of the most common instances of saliva transfer.

Minimize tooth decay

Your baby's best bet for dodging early pediatric cavities is for you to seek dental care during your pregnancy and taking your little one to the dentist as soon as baby teeth make an appearance. "Teeth are most vulnerable to cavities for the first few years after they erupt into the mouth, so children are most susceptible well into adolescence," explains Paul S. Casamassimo, DDS, MS, chief of dentistry at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a professor of pediatric dentistry at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry.

Get tips on surviving your child's first dental appointment >>

Instead of giving up kissing your baby altogether, remember that it's never too early to start brushing your baby's gums and teeth. So, talk with your pediatric dentist about the safest ways to keep your youngster's mouth Streptococcus mutans-free and lessen your worry that your spit is giving your baby cavities.

Read more pediatric dental tips

Toddlers with cavities: Bad parenting?
Teaching kids about dental health
Prepare your child for the dentist