Children, especially those developing their milk teeth are at a high risk of being exposed to contagious cavities. Contagious cavities are cavities that occur as a result of the introduction of the caries, causing bacteria in the mouth of an individual who did not have them. Understanding the concept of contagious cavities can help preserve the oral health of your children and protect them from dental caries. Here you will learn the basics of dental caries and how cavities can be contagious, and the measures you can take to protect your toddler from them.
How do cavities occur?
The mouth of an individual contains various oral bacteria, but only a few of these are believed to cause dental carries. When one doesn't practice proper oral hygiene, including brushing the teeth daily and flossing regularly, a soft, sticky substance known as plaque builds up on the teeth. The harmful bacteria in the mouth colonize the plaque on the teeth and ingest food particles that are left behind. As the bacteria ingest the food, they release acid as a by-product, and this slowly dissolves the tooth enamel causing tooth decay.
For caries, tooth decay, or cavities to occur, there has to be the presence of these bacteria in the mouth. Although the cavities aren't transferable from one person to another, the bacteria causing the cavities can be transferred, and this will eventually cause cavities in children.
How does the transfer occur?
The transfer of bacteria from the mouth of one adult to another commonly occurs through kissing. However, in small children, the transfer may be indirect, and innocent actions may cause serious dental health issues to your kids. The transfer can occur through any of the following ways:
- Biting into a child's foods such as fruits and vegetables when feeding them.
- Blowing into a child's hot food which can transfer the bacteria through the moist air from the mouth into the food.
- Allowing a child to insert their fingers into your mouth and back into theirs.
- Sharing eating utensils especially spoons with your child.
- Licking the corner of a napkin before wiping the child's mouth with it.
How can you protect your children?
You can protect your children from contagious cavities by avoiding the above practices. Also, regular dental checkups can help prevent caries during the initial stages. Getting proper dental treatment and reviewing your daily oral hygiene routine can contribute to minimizing the bacteria in your mouth, and this will reduce the chances of transferring them to your child.
Protecting your children from contagious cavities at a young age can help in preserving their dental health in the long term. Also, have the entire family visit the dentist regularly for a checkup as a preventative measure.