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Bacterial infection


According to Kathy Phipps, PhD, under normal circumstances of diet and challenge, children become permanently colonized with mutans streptococci between the middle of the second year and the end of the third year of life, during a window of infectivity.

Despite a long-held belief that mutans streptococci require teeth for persistent oral colonization, recent studies have demonstrated that the bacteria can colonize the mouths of predentate infants, particularly in the furrows of the tongue. The primary sources of caries-causing bacteria in infants are their mothers.

The higher the level of maternal mutans streptococcal infection, the higher the percentage of children who become infected. By shifting the focus to the bacterial nature of the disease, we will be able to more effectively prevent and treat dental caries, says Phipps.

UDA Action, newsletter of the Utah Dental Association, May/June 2004

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