Are cavities contagious?
Research suggests that yes, they can be -- as the mother of a 24-month-old found out recently, according to this NBC News Article:
"When Rachel Sarah took her daughter in for her first dental checkup a few years ago, she got a surprise. Not only did her 24-month-old have two cavities in her baby teeth, the pediatric dentist suggested she might have “caught” them from her mom.
'The dentist handed me this piece of paper that talked about saliva transfer,” said Sarah, a 37-year-old writer from San Francisco. “It said not to share cups or utensils or food and said, ‘No kissing your kid on the lips.’ I was shocked; I’d been taking a bite of food and then giving her a bite since she started eating. I told the dentist I’d never heard of this and he said these were new findings.'"
Yes, it's true: bacteria can pass from parent to baby through the parent's saliva — all the more reason for parents of infants and toddlers to keep their own dental hygiene in order. The teeth of young children, especially, are still developing enamel and are vulnerable to bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Still, we don't really expect parents to stop sharing those ice cream cones or stop kissing their little bundles of joy on the mouth. But, there are a few surefire ways to prevent spread of bacteria to your children via saliva:
- Parents should maintain good oral hygiene (brushing, flossing, regular checkups)
- Wipe your baby's mouth out with a clean, wet cloth to prevent bacteria.
- Infants should also make their first dental visit after six months of age