Contagious Cavities – Myth or Reality?
It’s a surprise to many people that dental cavities can be ‘contagious.’
For example, many parents are shocked to learn that their child has a dental cavity even though they practice impeccable oral hygiene at home. But even the most vigilant dental healthcare routine can fail if the bacteria that cause decay and cavities are shared.
Dental cavities are caused by a type of bacteria called mutans streptococcus. This type of bacteria loves to feed on the sugar left behind on the teeth from the food you eat. As the bacteria feed, they create an acid that eats away at the tooth enamel, making the teeth more vulnerable to dental disease.
This means that you may not have inherited bad teeth, you may just be passing around the bacteria that can cause dental cavities and tooth decay. In fact, it’s been found that around 80% of dental cavities are found in only 25-30% of people.
Avoiding Contagious Cavities
Below are a few ways to put a stop to the sharing of cavity-causing bacteria:
- Don’t share toothbrushes – This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how often it happens! Make sure that each member of your family has his or her own toothbrush. Additionally, make sure that each toothbrush is replaced every 3-4 months or once the bristles begin to fray. Lastly, thoroughly rinse your toothbrush with hot water after you brush to avoid reintroducing the same bacteria you just brushed away!
- Don’t share utensils – If you have young children in your home, it’s common to be sharing bites of food from your utensils to your children’s mouths and vice versa. However, we suggest that you do your best to avoid sharing utensils to put a stop to the spreading of oral bacteria.
- Don’t share pacifiers – If you have multiple young children in your home, you may notice that they swap pacifiers without a second thought. You might have even ‘cleaned’ a pacifier that’s fallen on the floor by putting it in your own mouth. This is not recommended! Keep pacifiers separate and clean them with warm, soapy water.
- Set an example for your family – Lastly, the best way to make sure that your family practices good oral hygiene is by properly caring for your own teeth. If you brush and floss daily and visit the dentist every six months, you’ll notice your family following your lead.
Healthy teeth can equal healthy gum tissue as well! Here at Coastal Periodontics, we know that gum disease can cause a number of other overall health problems. If you’re concerned about gum disease, please contact our Portsmouth, New Hampshire periodontics office today!