As cold and flu season waits around the corner, you may be preparing to protect yourself from catching a bug. No one wants to come down with a yucky sickness, and we all know that colds, the flu, and painful strep throat are all contagious. Most of us try to do all we can to protect ourselves from these germs, such as backing away when someone coughs or sneezes for fear that their germs will land on us. But, what if we told you that, like a common cold, cavities are contagious?
Blame it on the sugar, blame it on the kiss
Blame it on the sugar or blame it on the kiss. Although the most commonly understood manner for a cavity to develop is related to a poor diet laden with sugar, you can also “catch” a cavity from someone you kiss. This, in fact, makes cavities contagious.
Maybe it happened on the first kiss or the second or the third…But at some point, your exceptionally clean mouth became ridden with bacteria. You wonder, how could it be possible, you eat right and have exceptional dental hygiene. In fact, you have not had a cavity in the last twenty years. When your dentist blames your new cavity on your latest beau, you are shocked!
It just takes one kiss to cause a cavity
All it takes is one kiss for the bacteria that flourish on teeth, gums and mouth, Streptococcus mutans, and Streptococcus sobrinus to migrate from one mouth to another where they take up residence. These bacteria live on leftover food particles in the mouth and take advantage of opportunities to travel from one host to another during kissing.
Our salvia works to keep a happy balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria. Sometimes, the bad bacteria begin to outnumber the good bacteria – this is true when you eat a high sugar diet. A diet rich in sugar alters the pH of the mouth and provides fuel for bacteria to flourish.
According to Emanuel Layliev, D.D.D., of the New York Center for Cosmetic Dentistry,
“Cavities are typically passed through mouth-to-mouth contact when there is an exchange of saliva. Your everyday peck isn’t really enough to do it, but an intense tongue-touching spit-swapping makeout sesh will. Just think about how much of your partner’s saliva you’re introducing to your own mouth. Well, if there’s cavity-causing bacteria in the mix, you’re getting all that, too.”
Research shows that oral bacteria is regularly transmitted between spouses.
How to protect yourself from cavity-causing bacteria
Although it is difficult to tell if someone’s oral cavity is teeming with harmful bacteria, you might be able to tell if they have not had a dentist visit in a while. If in doubt, ask if they have a good dentist or a dentist they would recommend. If they allude to the fact that they have not seen a dentist in “forever.” you might want to have a candid discussion about mouth bacteria and cavities.
If the discussion is out of the question, be sure to use an antiseptic mouth rinse after intimate contact. Also, the healthier you keep your own mouth, the less likely it is that unfriendly bacteria will take up residence.
A note to mothers and fathers
If you are a parent, you have done it. You have tasted some food to see if it was hot and passed the spoon into the mouth of your child. The bacteria that cause cavities are easily transported from parent to child in feeding and also if you put your baby’s pacifier in your mouth and then in your child’s mouth. Layliev says,
“Because their immune systems aren’t well-conditioned, even kissing on the lips will begin to predispose them.”
If you in a long-term relationship, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep up on oral hygiene and eat a healthy, whole food diet. If you are dating, maintain a high oral hygiene standard and keep in mind that cavities are indeed contagious. This will help you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself!.