As we head into the cooler months, it’s normal to think about reducing the likelihood of you or your family getting the common cold, the flu, or of course, COVID-19. But should you also be concerned with catching a cavity? Are cavities contagious like a cold? Thankfully, your dentist in Hagerstown has some answers.
Good & Bad Bacteria
All of us have a variety of different types of bacteria in our mouths. Some of these bacteria are good and can help keep mouths healthy. But there are also some bad bacteria, particularly Streptococcus mutans and porphyromonas gingivalis, that can lead to decay and cavities. So what does this have to do with cavities being contagious? We’re glad you asked.
Sharing Sometimes Isn’t Caring
Even though we all have bacteria in our mouths, we don’t necessarily all have the same types of bacteria. So when you come in contact with a new strain of bacteria, it can cause problems, and it’s most likely there to stay. What’s more, if you swap bacteria with someone and the person happens to have those bad bacteria, and you don’t, they can make their way into your mouth and create cavities. Some of the top ways you can transfer bacteria between people are:
- Sharing utensils
- Sharting a straw
- Biting off the same piece of food
- Using someone else’s toothbrush
The Concern With Kids
Kids are at increased risk for developing cavities through shared saliva. Kids don’t have as many types of bacteria in their mouths and their immune systems tend to be weaker than adults’, meaning that any new bacteria that enters their system can make them more likely to get a cavity or two. In fact, the transmission of bad bacteria is most common between parents and kids.
Protect Yourself, Protect Others
Unfortunately, there’s no way for you to know if you’re transmitting bad bacteria to someone else or if they may be transmitting them to you. However, you can do your part to reduce the risk.
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly
- Don’t share forks, spoons, straws, or toothbrushes
- Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth hydrated
- See your dentist in Hagerstown at least twice a year
Regular dental checkups can not only help protect your teeth from developing cavities, but they can also help catch any other problems early. If it’s longer than six months since your last dental visit or dental cleaning, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Hagerstown today.