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After your baby is born
Your own dental health may affect your baby’s even after you give birth. Experts now agree that children can “catch” tooth decay from adults whose mouths contain the bacterium that causes dental caries (aka cavities). Infection usually occurs early, within the baby’s first two years, and is spread via kissing and sharing food. Children most often are infected by their moms, as babies’ and toddlers’ immature immune systems do not recognize their mothers’ bacteria as foreign. “To protect your baby’s mouth, keep your own free of cavities and gum disease, and start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they erupt,” says Richard D. Udin, D.D.S., director of the advanced pediatric dentistry program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.