Do Babies Get Cavities?

I was having a friendly conversation yesterday when someone was extolling the virtues of Japanese documentaries as being extremely interesting and exciting. One of the things she claimed to have learned from these programs was that babies are born without the bacteria in their mouths to produce cavities. Apparently, the bacteria are usually introduced into the mouths by ignorant parents who spoon feed their little one with spoons that the parents had already used, thereby passing the cavity-causing-bacteria along to the next generation. She cites this as the reason why some people never seem to get cavities no matter what they do and others get them simply by looking at sweets.

I’d love to be able to blame my parents for the dentist trips I’ve had endure in order to fix my rotting enamel, but I have a strong suspicion that this smacks of urban legend. So tell me, what’s the Straight Dope on tooth decay?

I find it incredibly unlikely that the bacteria won’t find their way into the infant’s mouth one way or another, clean spoon or no.

I think it has been proven that there can be the decay of infant teeth. I think they call it “bottle-rot”… It affects the front teeth when a baby feeds from a bottle.
Check out this link for more info: ://

The newborn’s mouth gets a large infusion of bacteria into it during it’s trip down the birth canal. It gets more as it breastfeeds, sticks it’s hands into its diaper and then into it’s mouth, etc. And yes, they can and do get cavities.

I don’t think the trip down the birth canal would be a major factor, because the baby is more vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria AFTER the teething process has begun (,10338,239955_114189,00.html)

“*Transmission occurs after teeth have begun erupting as Streptococcus mutans has difficulty colonizing other oral surfaces. The main time frame for susceptibility by the child appears to be between about 19 to 31 months with a median age of 26 months. *”