Cariogenic bacteria (including streptococci mutans and lactobacilli) are transferred two ways:
The higher the bacteria level in the caregiver's mouth, the more likely the child will become colonized with mutans streptococci.
Caregivers with high bacteria levels usually have:
Evidence supports that caregivers can decrease their risk of passing on cariogenic bacteria to their children by decreasing their own caries levels.
Aas JA, Griffen AL, Dardis SR, et al. Bacteria of Dental Caries in Primary and Permanent Teeth in Children and Young Adults. J Clin Microbiol. 2008; 46(4): 1407–1417.
Köhler B, Lundberg AB, Birkhed D, Papapanou PN. Longitudinal study of intrafamilial mutans streptococci ribotypes. Eur J Oral Sci. 2003;111(5):383-9.
Weintraub JA et al. Mothers' caries increases odds of children's caries. J Dent Res. 2010; 89(9):954-8.
Zhan L, Tan S, Den Besten P, Featherstone JD, Hoover CI. Factors related to maternal transmission of mutans streptococci in high-risk children-pilot study. Pediatr Dent. 2012; 34(4): e86-91.