Are Cavities Contagious?

Tooth decay can result from many things such as transferring saliva, genetics, poor oral hygiene, and feeding habits–such as constant sippy-cups full of sugary liquids. What parents may not know is that they can also be unconsciously spreading bacteria to their children, leading to cavities from a bacteria called Streptococcus Mutans. Also abbreviated as S. Mutans, it can be passed on from one person to the next through the transfer of saliva.

This bacteria has been known to spread by blowing on a baby’s food, sharing utensils, and even kissing your child on the lips. However, solely kissing your child on the lips won’t cause the bacteria to spread, but different factors work together to cause an infection. Tooth decay, specifically, is the main type of infection, and can spread from one person to another during infancy and especially when a child experiences tooth eruption.

Some tips for preventing cavity spread in your family:

1. Studies show that moms who chewed gum with Xylitol as a main ingredient were significantly less likely to show colonization of S. Mutans and more likely to prevent spreading to their child.

2. Use a heavy-duty mouth rinse. If a cavity has formed, you’ll need a filling. But for early-stage decay, your dentist can prescribe mouth rinse with chlorhexidine, a powerful antiseptic that fights off bacteria and can prevent decay from developing into cavities.

3. Don’t over share. If you have young kids, avoid sharing utensils with them or tasting food before serving it to them and of course, cover your mouth when you sneeze.

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