cavities are contagious?

Katherine - posted on 03/29/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )




Did you ever think a cavity could be contagious? According to two studies, cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth can be transmitted from person to person.

"Particularly, the easiest way to catch a cavity is when a mother is feeding a child," Dr. Irwin Smigel, creator of Supersmile, told AOL Health. The mother will taste the food to check the temperature and then continue feeding the child. "Immediately, that's how kids get cavities," he says.

Kissing between couples can also cause the spread of harmful bacteria. Smigel has seen many patients, particularly women, who have clean, healthy mouths, discover a cavity or two after entering into a relationship with a man who has cavities, gum disease or hasn't been to the dentist in several years.

Bacteria known as streptococcus mutans and streptococcus sobrinus are the culprits. One study, conducted in 2007 at the School of Dentistry at The University of Queensland in Australia, shows each of these bacteria have a 30 percent prevalence rate in 3-month-old babies to over an 80 percent prevalence rate in 24-month-old children with primary teeth.

The 1993 study from the Institute of Dentistry at the University of Helsinki in Finland studied four married couples. The study results showed oral bacteria can be transmitted between spouses.

"Streptococcus mutans is very common and travels easily," Smigel says. He recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. "The most important time to brush is at night," he says. During the day, saliva, which cleans the mouth, is produced; however, a person's mouth dries at night and less saliva is produced causing bacteria to flourish and attach to your teeth and gums at night.

For babies and small children who cannot effectively brush their teeth, parents should clean their teeth with warm water and gauze. For adults and children old enough to brush their teeth, Smigel recommends toothpaste with fluoride.

In addition to steering clear of candies like caramel that can stick to your teeth, rinsing with mouthwash after you eat, drinking water throughout the day, and flossing can also help keep harmful bacteria off your teeth and away from your gums. Smigel also recommends chewing gum -- but not just any gum. He suggests gum that contains xylitol, a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in many fruits and vegetables. It also fights bacteria and prevents tooth decay. "If you chew this gum even for five minutes, it prevents decay from setting in," says Smigel.

But above all Smigel says brushing your teeth is the most important measure you can take to prevent cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. "If you can brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with fluoride, the results are immeasurable."


Elfrieda - posted on 03/31/2011




I was just told this by my dental hygenist. I don't want it to be true! :( Is this why I've been getting cavities since I got married? I've been biting off pieces of food to make them small enough for my son to eat since he was 6 months old. I'm going to go brush his teeth right now!

She also told me that fruit rots in your belly if you eat anything else with it, so I was hoping that she was just crazy, since there's another word for that... digestion.


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Kim - posted on 03/31/2011




I just found this out when I took my daughter for her shots. I used to bite her pieces smaller when they were too big and test her food on my lip. Not anymore. Not a word of this was mentioned to me when my son was little.

Caitlin - posted on 03/31/2011




Now you don't only have to worry about STD's when you meet up with mr. right? Oh crap.. Well, my teeth were already bad, and I never "cleaned" a paci by putting it in my mouth, and i always tested baby food temp on the inside of my wrist, so the girls should be okay, unless i passed my bacteria to my husband and HE did those things.. GAH!

Rosie - posted on 03/31/2011




i knew it, found out AFTER i had smothered my children with all sorts of kisses, and licked their spoons more than once. luckily my kids have not had any cavities yet. i've had one when i was younger.
i would like to test the theory of never introducing anybody elses saliva into a childs mouth and see if they ever develop a cavity.

Emily - posted on 03/30/2011




I kinda did know this... For me, I was the one with the perfect teeth. I never had a cavity in my life. My dentist told me it was because I just didn't have those bacteria anywhere in my mouth. My husband had tons of cavities. So, after being married to him for a few years, now I get them too. D: I HATE IT!!!!

Bonnie - posted on 03/30/2011




I knew that things like gingivitis can be easily spread because it is bacteria in the gums.

Bonnie - posted on 03/30/2011




Yeah and then if you don't like the response, say "sorry I can't kiss you" LOL

Katherine - posted on 03/30/2011




What do you do? Ask someone how many cavities they have? LMAO.

Jenn - posted on 03/30/2011




Makes sense - they can spread in your own mouth so why not from one person's mouth to another's?

Jackie - posted on 03/30/2011




I was actually aware of this because bad teeth run on my Mom's side and I was "blessed" with bad teeth too.

Minnie - posted on 03/30/2011




This is what I let mothers know when their children's dentists blame night-time nursing for dental caries. Some families have a particularly virile strain of this bacteria that is really hard to kick.

Lindsay - posted on 03/29/2011




Well now I have something besides vanity issues of dating people with bad teeth! lol

Jodi - posted on 03/29/2011




I did know that, but just goes to show....know a little bit about the person you are about to play tonsil hockey with :P

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