Prevention Step One - Transmission and Establishment of Cariogenic Bacteria

Specifically, bacteria are transmissible via the parents or other primary caregivers. The most common routes of infection of children are from close contact with the primary caregiver’s saliva. The colonization of S. mutans is facilitated by a frequent sucrose-rich diet of the parent/caregiver, as well as the child. The higher the count of S. mutans present in the primary caregiver’s oral cavity, the more risk for the child. Another important factor in the caries process is that the earlier the S. mutans are introduced into the oral cavity and the greater number of bacteria present, the more likely it is that caries will develop in both the primary and permanent dentition. The ‘window of infectivity’ of S. mutans in children is usually between ages 19 and 31 months of age. For these reasons, educational programs that target parents and primary caregivers is extremely important.