You just finished your diligent nightly routine of brushing and flossing your teeth, but your partner – who slacks on regular tooth care – hops into bed and tries to plant a big, fat kiss on you. Can kissing cause cavities?
A TikTok with 1.2 million views posted by user @tasneemmahmoodd sparked that question. The video reads: “Thinking about the kiss I gave my husband even though he has cavities… & that’s on cavities being contagious.”
So can locking lips lead to dental issues like cavities? Experts say it’s possible, but there are prevention methods to keep you from worrying too much.
“There is some truth to that,” says Dr. Jeffrey Sulitzer, dentist and chief clinical officer with SmileDirectClub. “What we have found over recent studies is that cavities or dental decay is actually a communicable disease, meaning it can be passed on from one person to another with close contact.”
He adds close contact can include kissing, sharing saliva and close mouth contact. For example, not just kissing a romantic partner, but close contact between mother and child like snuggling or rubbing cheeks or noses together.
“That close contact can pass on the possibility of getting a cavity,” he says.
How is this possible? Because bacteria causes cavities and it can be transmitted from person to person, explains dentist Dr. Amanda Lewis.
But, there’s good news. You can still combat tooth decay with proper oral hygiene, which cuts down “a lot of risk,” Lewis says. Plus, certain individuals are more susceptible to that bacteria than others.
“Is it communicable? Yes, but like everything… if you’re healthy and if your mouth is healthy, you’re much less likely to contract it. Or whatever you would contract, your body’s able to fight off,” Lewis says.
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How do you prevent cavities from kissing?
Dentists agree that maintaining good oral and dental hygiene is key to prevent cavities.
“If both partners have impeccable hygiene – they brush two times a day, they floss at least once a day, they use alcohol-free mouthwash or they see the dentist every six months – then usually the environment is not very favorable to be transferred from one partner to another,” explains Dr. Wesam Shafee, cosmetic dentist and founder of Smile Care Dental Group.
In addition to brushing your teeth well, Sulitzer says not to forget about cleaning your tongue. And if you’re not near a toothbrush, another tip is to chew some gum. Not that sugar-filled stuff, but gum that uses a sweetener called “xylitol.”
“It actually breaks that communication from one person to another regarding dental cavities,” Sulitzer explains.
For new mothers looking to prevent transferring bacteria or cavities to young children, Shafee advises not kissing your child on the mouth and not putting a baby’s food utensil or pacifier in your mouth.
“Sometimes the mother wants to test the food and try it if it’s too hot or if it’s too cold and then the same spoon is transferred to the child… (or) the pacifier falls on the ground and some parents will suck on it, supposedly to clean it from the germs, and then they will put it in the child’s mouth,” he says, advising against both.
Following these suggestions can help keep your mouth healthy without kissing kisses goodbye.
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