If you’ve spotted a cavity in your mouth, you’re not alone. Over 90% of people have had at least one dental cavity in their permanent teeth, and about half of children have had at least one in their baby teeth.
Even though cavities are common, they’re not the kind of thing you’d like to pass to (or receive from) another person. But if you’re not careful, you might.
Are cavities contagious, and what really causes cavities? Read on to find out.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities are caused by tooth decay that forms holes in the teeth. These holes are permanent and cannot be healed or cured.
Cavities are usually treated with fillings, a root canal, or extractions. But when they aren’t, they can lead to bigger holes and decay in the teeth. Then, an infection may form, among with other issues such as toothache.
Are Cavities Contagious?
Many don’t realize that cavities can be spread between people.
When cavities form, bacteria come with them. Cavities can both cause the cavities and multiply later as the cavity grows, triggering tooth and gum infections.
If this bacteria is swapped between people, it can lead to new cavities. If you kiss a loved one with a cavity, for example, you may also get a cavity as a result.
You may assume that only a passionate saliva-heavy kiss could possibly lead to a contagious cavity. But even children can get cavities from their parents. One study showed that 30% of infants had cavity-causing bacteria in their mouths, likely from their own mothers. Even using the same spoon as your child could be enough to give them a cavity.
What Else Causes Cavities?
Before you banish ever kissing a loved one or sharing a drink again, it’s important to realize that many other factors are responsible for most cavities.
Causes of cavities can range from genetics to dietary habits. Anything that increases certain bacteria in the mouth, such as eating starchy and sugary foods, can trigger cavities. And this is only exasperated if you don’t regularly brush and floss your teeth.
Some conditions may also make certain people more prone to developing cavities. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, and other conditions can increase the risk of dental cavities.
And if you spot a cavity in children’s teeth, you can generally blame it on poor oral hygiene or diet issues. Talk to a trusted pediatric dentist such as Knoxville Pediatric Dentistry to find out how to prevent and treat cavities in babies and children.
Spread Love, Not Cavities
Are cavities contagious? Unfortunately, cavities can be spread between people through kissing and other means of swapping saliva.
But you can stop the spread of cavities by practicing good oral hygiene and caring for your teeth. And if you’re struggling with pesky cavities, be sure to visit your dentist for individualized information and advice.
For more on oral health and hygiene, check out our latest health articles!