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The claim: Dental cavities can be contagious
Health & Fitness

The claim: Dental cavities can be contagious

We all know that a flu and cold is contagious, but did you ever know of cavity being contagious? Apparently, researchers have concluded that not only is it possible, but its spread occurs all the time.

While sugary items get all the blame, cavities are apparently caused primarily by bacteria that attach to the teeth and feast on particles of food from your last meal. One of the by-products created is acid, which conclusively destroys teeth.

Just like a cold virus is contagious, passing from one person another, so can these cavity-causing bacteria. One of the most common is Streptococcus mutans. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to it, where studies have shown that most pick it from their caregivers — for example, when a mother tastes a child’s food to make sure it’s not too hot, said Dr. Margaret Mitchell, a cosmetic dentist in Chicago.

A number of studies have also shown that transmission can occur between couples too. Dr. Mitchell has seen it in her own practice.

In one instance, a patient in her 40s who had never had a cavity suddenly developed two cavities and was starting to get some gum disease,” she said. She learned the woman had started dating a man who hadn’t been to a dentist in 18 years and had gum disease.

In order to reduce the risk, Dr. Mitchell recommends frequent flossing and brushing, and chewing sugar-free gum, which promotes saliva and washes away plaque and bacteria.

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