Are Cavities Contagious?
In general, cavities are formed when bacteria stays on the teeth and results in tooth decay. But can you catch a cavity like you can a cold or flu virus?
First off, a cavity is a hole in the tooth forms due to untreated tooth decay. How does tooth decay form in the first place? While most people think it is due to sugary candy, bacteria is the real culprit. Bacteria that is left on food particles in your mouth produce an acid that eats away at your teeth.
Since bacteria is transferred from person to person, you can say that in a way cavities are contagious. Those who are most vulnerable to contract cavities are infants and young children. Mothers will taste food or cool it with their mouth first and then hand it off to their babies, transferring germs along the way. We all love to smooch babies, which is another way germs are passed on to them, increasing the risk of cavities.
Preventing Cavities in Children
- Avoid transferring food from your mouth to your child’s mouth.
- Don’t wash off pacifiers or bottle tops with your saliva.
- As your child’s teeth come in, wipe them with a cloth after meals, or if they are older, use a soft brush
- Avoid sending your baby or toddler to bed with milk or juice that will stay on their teeth as they sleep.
- Bring your child to the dentist early. This will help set up healthy dental routines and habits and detect any warning signs of teeth or gum issues.
In general, routine dental hygiene is the best way to avoid tooth decay. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day, limit sugary foods, and visit your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.
If you suspect a cavity in you or your child, please call our office to make an appointment. Cavities left untreated can cause greater pain and harm to the tooth.