When it comes to kissing your spouse or sharing food utensils with your child, you are at risk for passing a cold and catching a cavity. That’s right; just like the flu or a cold, dental caries are contagious. While sugar tends to get all the blame, tooth decay is primarily caused by bacteria that feast on these sugars and other high carb foods that you’ve consumed. Bacteria cling to the food debris left behind and create harmful acids that attack your tooth enamel. This leaves your teeth especially vulnerable to decay.
Multiple studies report that mothers are responsible for passing many of these cavity-causing bacteria onto their children. One of the most common is Streptococcus mutans, which infants and children are particularly prone to. Bacteria is transferred when parents test their child’s food for temperature or taste, or when they pop a pacifier in their own mouths for a more convenient “cleaning.” Ironically, the actions that parents perform to protect their kids may be actually causing them harm.
The same goes for kissing, where a bacteria swap is highly likely. You may want to evaluate your partner’s oral hygiene status before you pucker up next. In an effort to ensure you are not the one responsible for passing on a cavity, be sure to brush and floss daily, chew sugar-free gum, sip water and visit your dentist every six months. To better protect your child’s pearly whites, try to avoid sharing utensils and use the sink for rinsing a pacifier.