Are cavities contagious? Before we answer this question, lets learn a little more about cavities and what they are exactly.
A cavity is a hole in a tooth that forms because of untreated tooth decay. Cavities can start off small, but will grow if they are left untreated. A type of bacteria called plaque builds up on your teeth. This bacteria eats sugar and releases acid. This acid destroys tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Eating foods with high levels of sugar and acid can speed up this process. Cavities are extremely common, affecting over 90% of the United States population.
Now that we know more about cavities, we can answer our question: Are cavities contagious? The shocking answer is yes, cavities are contagious. You can’t exactly “catch a cavity” like you can catch a cold or the flu. The way that a person can “catch” a cavity is through the spreading of bacteria. The bacteria behind the formation of cavities is called streptococcus mutans. This bacteria, just like any other kind, can be spread from one person to another. You can catch this bacteria from someone else with poor dental hygiene or a cavity. The most common ways to spread or catch a cavity is by sharing eating utensils, drinks, food, and kissing.
Cavities are even more contagious for children. Studies show that 30% of three-month-olds, 60% of six-month-olds, and 80% of two-year-olds had this cavity-causing bacteria. This is because it is passed on from their parents. Parents always want to show affection to their babies by kissing them and maybe sharing food and drinks with them. This can easily infect their children if the adult has cavity-causing bacteria.
While cavities can be quite the pain, preventing them is easy. To avoid catching this cavity-causing bacteria, you should be cautious of who you share things with. Be cautious of sharing utensils, water bottles, and kissing until you know that the person has good oral hygiene. If you are the one that has a cavity, be aware of who you come in contact with. You can let those around you know of your condition, and teach them on ways to prevent them from getting a cavity.
Here at Promise Community Health Center, our dental department always says to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, and floss at least once a day. This is a great way to prevent cavities and maintain proper oral hygiene.
If you have any questions or want any more information on cavities and overall proper oral hygiene, feel free to contact us here at Promise.