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Are Cavities Contagious?

There are many concerns over contagious illnesses surrounding us today. From the Coronavirus to chickenpox, there are many valid concerns over passing bacteria along to others. Cavities can be considered contagious, especially to young children and babies. Bacteria mutans streptococcus feeds on sugars in the mouth and creates an acid that eats away tooth enamel. As with any other contagious ailment, this bacteria can spread from one person to another if you are not careful. 

Cavity-Causing Bacteria Can Spread From Person To Person 

Everyone knows that you can catch a cold or the flu from another person, but researchers have found that not only is it possible to catch a cavity, but it happens frequently. Just as a cold virus can be passed from one person to the next, so can cavity-causing bacteria. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable. Germs can quickly spread from mouth to mouth via shared food and utensils, sneezing, kissing, and more. Here are a few tips for preventing the spread of cavities between members of your family.

Monitor What You Share

From taking a bite off your spouse's fork to drinking out of someone else's glass, you may be a target for streptococcus bacteria to invade your mouth if you participate in these practices. Cavity-causing bacteria that live in your mouth can quickly spread through saliva. Sharing foods, beverages, or even chapstick can inadvertently transfer your bacteria to someone else and vice versa. 

Practice Great Oral Hygiene Care

Brushing twice a day for a full two minutes and flossing daily is essential to prevent contagious bacteria from spreading in your mouth. Additionally, incorporating a mouth rinse can help you avoid the bacteria that cause cavities to form. 

Boost Your Saliva Production 

It's commonly known that boosting your saliva production is the best way to combat cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth by washing away bacteria. This can be achieved in a few simple techniques. 

Drink Water

Whether your preference is bottled or tap that contains fluoride, drinking water helps to flush away the sugar and left-behind food particles in your mouth while increasing saliva production. Water helps to keep your salivary glands healthy and the saliva flowing. 

Use a Mouth Rinse

If a cavity has formed, you will undoubtedly need a filling to correct the tooth decay. For early-stage dental decay, have your dentist prescribe a mouth rinse with chlorhexidine, a powerful antiseptic that fights off bacteria and can prevent decay from developing into cavities. 

Chewing Gum

Chew sugar-free gum up to three times a day to give your saliva production levels a boost. Select a brand with the artificial sweetener Xylitol, which helps to fight off harmful bacteria and boost saliva production. 

Think of Food 

Another smart way to produce more saliva is to start thinking about eating food. When your body thinks it's time to eat, it begins to produce more saliva in preparation for what is to follow. 

Don't Overshare

If you are a parent with young children, avoid sharing utensils with them, or even tasting food before serving it to them. Cover your mouth when you sneeze, and if you are still concerned, switch to kissing your child on the cheek instead of the lips. 

Visit Your Dentist Often 

Regular visits to your dentist are imperative to keeping your entire mouth fresh, clean, and as healthy as possible. Your dentist can work with you to prevent cavities, as well as to help care for any minor tooth decay that has already formed. Taking advantage of routine check-ups and cleanings with Tompkins Dental will save you money and time in the future. Ask us about how to prevent cavities from being transmitted from others to you at your next appointment. 

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