When we think of illness or conditions that can be passed from one person to another it’s Measles, Chickenpox and the common cold that comes to mind – but Dental Cavities? Are they contagious?
Cavities start when oral bacteria feed-off food remnants, releasing acids that break down tooth enamel and dentin. So how can this process be shared between people? It’s all in the bacteria – oral bacteria called mutans streptococcus are responsible for tooth decay as they feed on sugars in the mouth, which creates acids that destroy tooth structure. But you’re thinking ‘what’s the contagious part’ – well this bacterium can be passed from person to person during kissing, sharing food from the same fork, drinking from the same glass etc. – and so it’s not that you can catch a cavity but you can be exposed to the destructive bacteria that causes cavities – especially if you’re snuggling up with someone whose oral hygiene isn’t the best.
You just knew we had to mention daily brushing and flossing! But this daily habit can reduce your risk of developing cavities by breaking up bacterial colonies and reducing acid attacks on enamel. When you incorporate regular visits to your hygienist for a professional cleaning the bacterial activity in your mouth is further reduced – and more importantly bacteria is removed from below the gum line – an area that no toothbrush can effectively reach. Calgary Dentists at Centennial Smiles Dental don’t expect you to stop smooching or sharing delicious bites from your families and friends plates – but they do encourage you to maintain good home care and regular dental visits. Boosting saliva production can also help neutralize acids in the mouth – but make sure you’re reaching for water or sugarless gum and stay away from high sugar drinks and milky lattes (except for that morning treat).
You really can stay cavity free with healthy food choices, daily brushing and flossing and routine trips to the dentist. Talking to your dentist about the risk of dental decay is a great opportunity to hear about some dental procedures designed specifically to reduce the risk of decay. Procedures such as dental sealants and certain rinses can help protect tooth structure and keep a mouth free from cavities.
All procedures performed by General Dentists