Are Cavities Contagious?


Your children can catch the chickenpox from their classmates. Your spouse may get the cold from office mates. And we all know how contagious those yawns are. But what is most interesting is the fact that people can “catch” cavities too. The most famous explanation for why tooth decay arises is because of sugary foods. However, another culprit that is responsible for tooth decay is actually bacteria in one’s mouth. These bacteria stay in the mouth use food debris as their source of nutrition and then they release an acidic byproduct. The very common plaque is that mixture of food, acid, saliva and pathogenic bacteria that adhere on the surface of teeth. This plaque is responsible for the erosion of the enamel which eventually causes the formation of cavities.


So it is not just the food per se which causes cavities. According to dentists, the type of food is irrelevant but what are required for the formation of cavities are these acid-producing bacteria. It is easy to spread these agents through mouth-to-mouth contact can happen through the simple action of sharing utensils, sneezing and kissing. For this reason, the formation of cavities is contagious in nature.

According to the Australian Dental Journal tooth decay is one of the most popular infections oral diseases and it has been found out that 30% among three-month-olds, 60% of six-month-olds and 80% of two-year-olds have Streptococcus mutans in their mouths which is the likely agent which causes cavities. According to researchers, this agent may have been transmitted from their mothers with those mothers who have a history of having cavities more likely to pass the agent to their children. So does this mean then that adults should stay away from those first date kisses at least until one knows for sure that one’s date does not have horrible dental records?

Well, no. You can go smooching but your chances of getting the bacteria and having it proliferate inside your mouth is smaller especially since adults already have a well-developed immune system unlike children. But to prevent the spread of cavities in families with little children, it is crucial that everyone visits the dentist. According to the CDC, almost half of adults skipped their dentist appointment in 2009. Even if one is not feeling any kind of discomfort, a dental checkup is required wherein every individual is thoroughly checked for tooth decay. Professional cleaning once every six months will also help prevent the formation of cavities.

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