The Root of Dental Diseases
Many other diseases of the body are spread easily from person to person through bacteria and viruses. When your partner is sick, you’re likely to pause before giving them a kiss on the lips — so what about for dental diseases?
Dental diseases can be spread between people, but not in the same way as other illnesses. You’re not born with the bacteria necessary for dental decay and you’ll often catch it from sharing saliva in some way with an adult, often a parent.
Bad Bacteria vs. Good Bacteria
There’s a lot of good bacteria in your mouth that protects your teeth, and the health of your mouth often depends on a balance of bacteria. The bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay are called Streptococcus mutans.
S. mutans can result in tooth decay and periodontal disease. Tooth decay can spread through the layers of your tooth, first creating a cavity and eventually resulting in an infection of the innermost parts of your tooth if left untreated. Then, you may have to face root canal therapy.
Periodontal disease is the result of this infection penetrating below your gum line. The bacteria can eventually affect all of the tissues in your mouth and cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, putting them at risk of falling out.
But you won’t catch a single instance of these diseases by sharing saliva with another person. They often develop over a long period of time without treatment or regular oral hygiene care.
How to Avoid Spreading Disease
If you or your partner have S. mutans already, there’s nothing you can do to get rid of it. Even if you could, there’s no point in avoiding kissing to avoid it. S. mutans is incredibly common and it’s not the sole cause of cavities or oral diseases.
Dentists like Dr. Tarek Assi recommend practicing the following tips to prevent spreading oral diseases.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Even if you already have the cavity-causing bacteria, you still have control over your oral health. S. mutans doesn’t automatically cause decay, but it’ll is continuously present if you slip up. Remaining vigilant with your oral hygiene routine can prevent you from developing cavities.
Go to the Dentist
Going to the dentist for regular examinations, cleanings, and preventive care can further help to keep oral diseases at bay. Even if you take regular care of your teeth, it’s easy to miss spots — and those spots are the ones that can develop into disease.
Visiting a dentist like Dr. Keith Bram regularly can ensure your oral health is protected. In the case that you’re developing an oral health issue, your dentist will usually catch it at a stage that’s easily treated.
Don’t Share When You Have a Disease
If you have an oral disease and especially if your gums are bleeding, avoid sharing straws, drinks, or utensils with others. Be particularly careful about avoiding infecting people who have open wounds or sores in their mouth, or have a compromised immune system.
Don’t Share With Children
Many people contract S. mutans as children from their parents or other adults close to them. A child’s immune system is much weaker than an adult’s, so you’re less likely to get the bacteria when you’re an adult. Try to avoid doing anything that could infect a child.
Fluoride is often found in tap water throughout America — check if your state provides fluoride through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even if your tap water isn’t fluoridated, you can use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to help protect your teeth.
Chew Gum With Xylitol
Xylitol is an ingredient in some chewing gums that can help to prevent cavity development by boosting saliva production. Be careful to choose a gum that has xylitol as the first ingredient, though.
Your Health Depends on You
Because many people contracted S. mutans since before they could remember, there’s no need to worry too much about it. While it would be ideal to stay away from this bacteria, it’s fairly difficult to do.
All you have to keep in mind is that you have near-complete control over how likely you are to get an oral disease. Unlike other diseases such as the common cold or the flu, you can’t catch a single cavity or periodontal disease from another person — only you can develop it over time.
Oral diseases are often easily reversible in their earliest stages, so visiting a dentist like Dr. Vu Kong is vital for keeping your beautiful smile in its best condition. So don’t restrain yourself from kissing your partner for fear of catching their oral disease.