Have you ever wondered if cavities are contagious? If not, you’re probably wondering about it now. Go ahead and take a few moments to think it over. What did you decide – do you think you cancatch a cavity by kissing someone? Although it sounds funny and perplexing, it’s true. Cavities – or more specifically, the bacteria that causes cavities – are contagious.
Now you’re probably wondering why they didn’t teach you this in school. It would have made health class much more interesting. That’s for sure. But don’t worry; we’ll get you up to speed now about how cavities can be spread person to person, and then you can share this interesting truth with your friends.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are caused by bacteria, streptococcus mutans and streptococcus sobrinus, primarily. Together, they’re often referred to as mutans streptococci. Keep that in your back pocket as an icebreaker. Anyhow, when these two throw a party in your mouth, it can quickly grow out of control. They’re known to leave behind a mess of gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities.The bacteria live on the sugar in your mouth, which fuels its ability to produce tooth-eating acid.
Cavities are bacteria
If there’s one thing we all know about bacteria is that it likes to travel. The same way you can transmit bacteria from sneezing or coughing on someone, you can also transmit bacteria through kissing or sharing food or drink. Parents can even unknowingly transmit cavity-causing bacteria to their baby. This can happen if you “clean” the pacifier in your mouth, cool down food in your mouth or share utensils with your baby.
Does xylitol prevent cavities?
There are a few things you can do to keep cavity-causing bacteria under control. For starters, be sure you practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth morning and night for two minutes at a time with fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily. Also, be mindful of everything you share orally.
Previous studies claimed that xylitol, a popular sugar substitute, could be helpful in preventing cavities. The theory was that xylitol helped maintain a neutral pH, stimulated saliva production to reduce dry mouth and prevented bacteria from sticking to your teeth. However, the effect of xylitol on preventing cavities is unclear, according to recent research by the American Dental Association (ADA).
Get a dental checkup
No matter how thoroughly your brush, floss, and gargle, you still need to get a dental checkup. And even if you haven’t been sharing utensils or smooching anyone, you still need to go. Your dentist – or your dental hygienist -is able to perform a much more thorough cleaning than you can. Plus, your dentist can identify early signs of gum disease or tooth decay before it becomes more rampant. If you already have a cavity, you especially need to schedule a dental exam to determine the best plan of attack.
How much is a dental checkup?
If you have dental insurance you probably won’t have to pay one red cent for a dental checkup. Most dental insurance plans, if not all, cover preventative care at 100%. If you don’t have dental insurance, check out a dental savings plan. This is a great alternative to dental insurance that works like a club membership. You pay an annual fee for access to a network of dentists who offer reduced fees — 10% to 60% off the cost of most dental procedures – to plan members.
That means if you have a cavity (or catch a cavity) and need to get it filled; you’ll receive a discount on the dental work performed. For example, instead of paying $185 for a tooth-colored filling, you may onlypay $57 with a dental savings plan. Plus, dental savings plans don’t have a waiting period. You can start using your dental savings plan within 72 of becoming a member. That’s especially nice when you need immediate dental care, like with a painful cavity.
Cavities are contagious
Now that you know what cavities are, as well as how they can be transmitted and prevented, spread the word. Education is prevention and prevention is name of the game. If you haven’t been in for a dental checkup within the last six months, be sure to schedule it. And if you don’t have dental insurance or find it too expensive, there are some really affordable dental savings plans out there. You’re sure to find one worth smiling about.