Are Cavities Contagious?

People go out of their way to protect themselves and loved ones. When one family member is sick it seems extra caution is taken to keep the cold from spreading. Unfortunately, anytime sickness is not visibly present, germs are more likely to spread because these extra precautions are no longer taken.

Though sugar is the usual scapegoat for cavities, they are actually caused by bacteria. Bacteria live everywhere, especially in our mouths where food particles provide a food source. Most bacteria are harmless, some are even beneficial, but the ones that aren’t will wreak havoc in no time at all.

A ten-second kiss between two people exchanges roughly 80 million bacteria. A handshake can transfer from 50 million to 124 million bacteria, depending on the length of the handshake and how hygienic each person is. A certain amount of protection comes from thoroughly washing and disinfecting your hands between meet and greeting and that business luncheon.

Two of the most dangerous of these bacteria, as far as your mouth is concerned, are Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. Both of these bacteria thrive in the mouth and contribute significantly to tooth decay. Since both strains are so closely related, they are often grouped together and called mutans streptococci.

If you have children at home, do not have them eat off of a fork after you. Bacteria which do not impact adults can be extremely harmful to kids. Avoid having them take a bite of food after you. If you want to share that breadstick or slice of pizza, cut them off some or let them eat first (for more information visit: http://www.northmiamibeachdentist.com/dental-services/pedodontics-child-care/). Having separate utensils for your children keeps germs down and encourages kids to feed themselves.

Bacteria are transferred, but bad dental habits and poor nutrition can be family learned traits as well. Families that snack on junk food can pass these habits on to kids. Sugar does not directly cause cavities, but it does provide one heck of a food source for the bacteria which do. Consider “fruit sweet” instead of “sugar sweet” when it comes to dessert and encourage your kids to learn great oral hygiene habits early on.

There is one more way in which cavities can be passed down through the family… genetics. There are some genetic predispositions which often skip generations and some which do not. Some genetic predispositions may even hide for generations. Periodontal Disease is one condition that may be genetically influenced (http://www.northmiamibeachdentist.com/dental-services/periodontics-gum-disease/).

Though it is a lot less common than Periodontal Disease, Amelogenesis Imperfecta is a genetic condition which affects your enamel, either causing problems with hardening or less initial enamel production. In the U.S., roughly 1 out of every 700 people have this condition which can make your teeth sensitive and prone to wear. There are many other genetic conditions which make people more likely to develop cavities. When you know your family dental history, steps can be taken to prevent cavities from occurring.

Before treating gum, tooth, or other oral problems consult with Dr. JJ Edderai (a well-respected Miami dentist who has earned the trust of his patients for their dental care needs). A dental check-up every six months will allow Dr. Edderai to keep a watchful eye on your oral health and prevent cavities before they start. For answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, visit my FAQ page at http://www.northmiamibeachdentist.com/faqs/.

Copyright Dr. Jean-Jacques Edderai -2015

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