Pre-chewing food for babies can be harmful

by Maribeth Herron

Hi, my name is Maribeth Herron, I am Yup’ik grown from Napakiak, and I now reside in Bethel, AK with my husband Charles and three children Honey, Charles Jr., and Kai. I am currently in my second year of teaching Head Start and I am currently taking classes through the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus.

As a lifelong resident of the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta region, I am a big advocate for good dental health hygiene. Growing up it was normal to see our mothers feeding babies by pre-chewing their food. Little did we know that this could be a damaging thing especially if you have dental cavities. We are spreading mouth diseases this way to our children.

In my own personal experience with my children and oral healthcare, I have heard a little bit about caries and how it affects teeth when my eldest child was a baby. As she got older, she had to have dental repairs done to save her teeth. In comparison with my older two children and last born who is now five I will say that dental caries disease is preventable.

My last child has deemed satisfactory in the dental department as he has pristine oral health. This proving to me that the pre-chewing method is in fact harmful and needs to be addressed as I do still see this being practiced today.

What is dental caries? Common “tooth worms” or cariogenic bacteria found in human teeth that feed off sugars from what we have eaten. They metabolize the sugars that produce acids in which the acids cause our teeth to erode causing lesions on the teeth. When these lesions are not treated, they become cavities. There is risk for further infections like abscesses and in some cases even sepsis.

How can you manage or prevent caries? Daily teeth brushing with fluoridated toothpaste to remove plaque from teeth plus fluoride mouth rinsing. Drinking fluoridated water is also beneficial in keeping the growth of cavities at bay. Annual visits to a dentist can be helpful in keeping up with our oral health. Limiting sugary food and beverage consumption and/or and maintaining good oral hygiene.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at [email protected]!






Disclaimer: I am not a dentist, nor do I work in the oral health field.

Example: 9075434113