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Maple Grove, MN 55369

Are Cavities Contagious & How Do They Spread?

May 30, 2024
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Patients often wonder, “Are cavities contagious?” they are not. However, the bacteria that causes them, Streptococcus mutans, is transferable through saliva. It might come as a surprise to you, but these bacteria can spread through kissing and sharing food.

Therefore, it is possible to catch a cavity from others. But luckily, there are ways to avoid it. So let’s discuss:

Can Cavities Spread from Person to Person?

It’s commonly known that you can catch a cold or the flu from someone else, but scientists have discovered that you can also catch a cavity, and it happens quite often. Just like how a cold spreads from one person to another, the bacteria that cause cavities can also be passed around.

Babies and kids are especially at risk. These germs can easily move from one mouth to another through sharing food and utensils, sneezing, kissing, and other ways.

Are Cavities Contagious in Adults and How to Prevent Them?

Adults can get a cavity by sharing saliva with someone else. In fact, the research found that you can get a cavity on your tooth from kissing, especially if your partner has a poor dental condition. The following tips can stop them from spreading:

  • Monitor What You Share

    When you eat from someone else’s fork or drink from their cup, you might be letting harmful bacteria into your mouth. These bacteria can easily spread through saliva. So, be careful about sharing food, drinks, or even chapstick.

  • Brush and Floss Regularly

    Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss daily. This helps keep those contagious bacteria in check. Also, using mouthwash can help prevent cavity-causing bacteria from causing trouble.

  • Boost Your Saliva Production

    Your saliva contains the necessary minerals that strengthen enamel. Therefore, it is important to let your teeth soak into that saliva. Avoid foods and medicines that cause a dry mouth; insufficient saliva production provides a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.

    Drinking water, using mouth rinses, chewing xylitol mints, and thinking about your favorite foods produce a healthy flow of saliva.

  • Don’t Overshare

    If you’re a parent, try not to share utensils with your kids, and avoid tasting their food before serving it. Cover your mouth when you sneeze, and if you’re worried about spreading germs, stick to kissing your kids on the cheek instead of the lips.

How Quickly Do Cavities Spread?

The speed at which cavities form and spread can differ from person to person. It depends on their oral health and other factors around them. Sometimes, cavities can seem to appear suddenly, but it actually takes time for them to develop.

Leaving plaque on your teeth for a long time makes it easier for cavities to start. If you already have a cavity, your mouth becomes a good place for bacteria to grow, which can make the cavity get worse and even lead to more cavities forming.

Bottom Line

Whenever someone asks, “Are cavities contagious?” Yes, but the real deal is that the cavity is not the culprit. It’s the bacteria that might have caused that cavity in the first place. Once it enters your mouth, your enamel can be its next target.

Visit Dr. Prem Kumar at Almond Dental for regular dental checkups. Our general dentist is an active member of the American Academy of General Dentistry. Call us at (612) 782-7000 for our clinic in St. Anthony, MN, or at (763) 762-7177 for Maple Grove, MN clinic to schedule a visit.

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