A new study has found that cavities are contagious. "Just as a cold virus can be passed from one person to the next," so can cavity-causing bacteria that cling to teeth and eat food particles lodged on and between them, The New York Times' Anahan O'Connor reports.
Infants and children are especially susceptible, with bacteria often transmitted to them by their caregivers. One prime example is when mothers test food to confirm it's not too hot for a child. Couples can also spread the bacteria between each other. "In one instance, a patient in her 40s who had never had a cavity suddenly developed two cavities and was starting to get some gum disease," said Dr. Margaret Mitchell, a cosmetic dentist in Chicago. The woman realized she'd been dating a man who hadn't been to the dentist in nearly 20 years and had gum disease.
Daily flossing, frequent brushing and chewing sugar-free gum, which washes away plaque and bacteria, can help. (Read more)