In a world laden with infectious and communicable diseases, are cavities one of them? We commonly associate the development of cavities from eating scores of sugary treats, but contrary to what your mother may have told you, subsisting in a diet composed mainly of sweets isn’t the only way that you could develop cavities. Moreover, cavities may be passed on from one person to another?

What makes a cavity?

Cavities are caused by acid metabolites that are produced by bacteria that are residing inside your mouth. But how are oral bacteria able to produce such acidic products? When microorganisms feed on food debris left inside teeth crevices, they produce acids as the by-product of their metabolism. The acid, which is concentrated within substances called plaque, coat the exterior of your teeth and eat away teeth enamel causing the formation of cavities.

How is cavity formation contagious?

While we often point the finger on sugar which serves as food for these nasty bacteria, the fact remains that without the presence of these bacteria, you won’t have anything that would convert sugar into acid. And it so happens that the strain of bacterium which is responsible for churning food into all sorts of enamel eating acids can be passed on from one person to another by kissing, sneezing and sharing utensils.

In fact, the Australian Dental Journal has recently labelled tooth decay as the most infectious of all oral diseases. In a research, it has been found out that the bacterial agent which causes cavities, Streptococcus mutans, is found in 30 per cent of three-month-olds, 60 per cent of 6-month-olds and 80 per cent of 2-year-olds. The researchers assert that this certain strain of bacterium may have been passed on from mothers to their children, and that mothers who have a history of dental cavities are more likely to pass on the S. mutans bacterium to their offspring.

How are cavities prevented?

While this article does not suggest that you stop smooching with people who may not have stellar dental records, it does put emphasis on good dental hygiene. Use a mouthwash after brushing your teeth to get rid of plaque and never miss out on regular teeth cleanings. You should have a professional dental cleaning once in every six months to get rid of tartar or hardened plaque. And if you have kid, keep a keen eye on those small pearly ones as they start to come in. You can use a soft cloth or gauze to clean your baby’s teeth.