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: 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 (

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

Copyright Dr. Jean-Jacques Edderai -2015

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How Smoking Impacts Teeth

Lately commercials have been highlighting the dangers of smoking. Occasionally there will be one which highlights the dangers of smoking on the health of the mouth. The dangers go beyond the surface. While I am comfortable with people walking their own paths, as I dentist I am vehemently against smoking. I know the havoc which can be inflicted on the mouth because I have seen it first hand. Hopefully, after knowing what can happen, people will be more informed and able to make an educated decision.

Leukoplakia isn’t heavily televised and most people have no idea what it is. But when it develops it is definitely a cause for concern. Smoking causes irritation to the mucous membranes around the mouth and tongue. The symptoms can range from mild to severe on a case-by-case basis. When this irritation is chronic, as is often the case with smokers, white and/or grayish patches can develop around in the mouth. Most frequently Leukoplakia is seen in senior citizens, but it can happen at anytime during the life of a person. Leukoplakia does have other causes, such as irritation from rough teeth or ill-fitting dentures and sun exposure but, smoking is towards the top of the list.

The risk of developing oral cancer increases tremendously when a person is a smoker. Oral cancer can affect the tongue, lips, gums, and throat, often spreading to incorporate more than one area. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation approximately 45,750 Americans are diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer annually. Of those who are newly diagnosed, only about 57% will be alive in 5 years. On a worldwide scale, 450,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year.

Smoking is notorious for staining teeth. Those pearly whites will go to dark and dingy more and more as smoking continues. This not only affects the appearance of a person, but the stains get into the enamel and weaken it. Enamel is a very strong substance, but once erosion begins it is a hard process to stop. Once the enamel is gone, the rest of the tooth becomes vulnerable and open to decay. For this reason, smokers are as likely to develop cavities as people who do not brush. You can find out more information about whitening treatments at

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease is one of the largest reasons for tooth loss.Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for developing gum disease. Smoking encourages plaque to build up, This plaque build-up leads to gingivitis. When gingivitis does not get sufficient treatment in a timely manner, it advances to gum disease. When periodontal disease sets in, the gums begin to separate from the teeth, making them more vulnerable to infections and more likely to loosen or fall out.

Not only does smoking increase your chances of developing periodontal disease, it also hinders the effectiveness of treatments. Sometimes this can result in dry socket after having a tooth removed. The reasons available to motivate them to not smoke are numerous and apparent. The thing about our teeth is that once they are broken, cracked, chipped, or gone, it is forever. It is never too early to get a checked-up if you are concerned about your oral health.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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Periodontal Disease Detection

A study conducted in 2012 estimates that 47% of all adults over the age of 30 have some degree of periodontal disease. This can range from mild to serious. Periodontal disease starts with plaque. Plaque comes from the bacteria which resides in our mouths. Bacteria love the mouth because it is wet, warm, and has a food source.

When plaque is not removed from the teeth it hardens and forms tartar which can only be removed with a professional dental cleaning. When plaque stays on the teeth, it becomes slowly more detrimental to the mouth. Eventually this plaque build-up, which is full of bacteria, causes an inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis.

Though gingivitis can be treated and reversed with proper dental care, if it is not treated it will turn into Periodontitis. This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These pockets are prone to infections. Since the body is treating the infection with its natural defenses, the connections the teeth have get destroyed. The connective tissues, bones, and gums all get broken down and loose teeth need to be removed.

Of course, anyone who has been diagnosed with gingivitis is at a high risk for developing Periodontal disease, but even without a diagnosis there are warning signs that could indicate periodontitis is present. Having bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth could be an indication that there is an abundance of bacteria building up in the mouth. Bacteria produce endotoxin which is part of their own metabolism. This is the cause of gum inflammation. These pockets full of endotoxin burrow deeper into the gum line and eventually the jaw. If too much of the jaw bone is lost then teeth have no stability and will either be lost or need to be removed.

Changes to the gum line can indicate the presence of periodontal disease. This is especially true if gums are swollen, bright red, purple, tender to the touch or if they recede down making the teeth look longer than normal. Sometimes these symptoms are dramatic and obvious, in milder cases though, they may appear in a less severe manner.

Because the gum line is physically pulling away from the teeth, new spaces and gaps may appear in between existing teeth. This is usually accompanied by loose teeth, a change to the bite pattern or the way teeth fit together. When the area is infected there will often be a pus build up between the teeth or between the gums and teeth.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that these symptoms will go away on their own. If left untreated, tooth loss and other serious symptoms can occur at an alarming rate. Aside from having gingivitis, periodontitis has other risk factors. Poor oral hygiene, a hereditary predisposition, diabetes, tobacco use, medications, substance abuse, hormonal changes, and poor fitting restorations can all increase a persons odds of getting periodontal disease. Do not take chances with your teeth. If you have any risk factors and/or symptoms of periodontal disease, see your dentist, sooner rather than later.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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