…CAVITIES CAN BE CONTAGIOUS??
Didn’t know that one, did you?? I find that most of our patients don’t know that cavities can be passed from one person to another. The population most affected by the spread of cavity causing bacteria are infants and young children. Parents seem to think that if they limit their children’s intake of sugary drinks and candy that cavities won’t be an issue…wrong!! Cavities are caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which are present only in the mouth. Babies are born without this bacteria in their mouths but pick it up over time just like any other bacteria or “bug” from the people around them.
Want to know how it happens? Here’s an example — Parent or Caregiver has a cavity in their mouth. Their mouth is now loaded with tons of the Streptococcus mutans bacteria. During the course of the day, this parent or caregiver will provide food to the infant or young child, usually testing it to make sure it isn’t too hot or that it tastes good. When that parent or caregiver puts the spoon in their mouth and then the mouth of the child they are putting tons of the cavity causing bacteria into the child’s mouth. Also, think of how many times a day a parent will kiss their baby or young child. Every single time, the bacteria is passed from parent to child. Now, I’m not saying that you should never kiss your baby. I’m saying that you should be aware of your oral health status and whether or not you have a cavity.
Okay, so now you know how cavities can be contagious but here’s what you still might not know: IT’S PREVENTABLE!! Just like you can prevent the spread of the flu or a cold by washing your hands frequently, you can prevent the spread of cavities by seeing your dentist every 6 months for a check-up!! Your dentist is the best line of defense against this cavity causing bacteria. One of the most important parts of your dental check-up is seeing if you have any cavities. If you do have a cavity, your dentist will fix the tooth and restore your mouth back to health. Then you can kiss away on your baby or child as much as you want without the worry!