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Can Cavities Be Contagious?

A group of kids outsideMany parents who make sure their children practice perfect oral hygiene are surprised to learn that their child has a cavity. But even the best dental care and oral hygiene routine can fail if the cavity-causing bacteria is allowed to spread and be shared between children, especially in families.

Dental cavities are caused by a kind of bacteria known as mutans streptococcus. These bacteria love to feed on sugar that may be left on the teeth. If the bacteria isn’t brushed or flossed away, it can create plaque and acid which will eat away at your child’s tooth enamel, causing dental cavities and tooth decay. This means that, even if your family practices good at-home oral hygiene, bacteria may still be passed along.

How To Avoid Sharing Cavity-Causing Bacteria

Below are a few ways to stop the spread of cavity-causing bacteria in your home:

  • Don’t Share Utensils – With small children in the house, it’s sometimes common to share bites of food from your utensils with your kids and vice versa. Instead, it’s a good idea to keep utensils separate to stop the spreading of bacteria.
  • Don’t Share Pacifiers – If there are more than one baby or toddler in your home, it may be common for them to swap pacifiers. This is a really good way to spread bacteria! Keep pacifiers separate and clean them often with warm, soapy water.
  • Don’t Share Toothbrushes – This one may seem like a no-brainer but kids have been known to brush with whatever toothbrush is available. The American Dental Association has recommended that toothbrushes be replaced every 4-6 months or as soon as the bristles begin to fray. Additionally, make sure that each member of your family has his or her own toothbrush and knows not to share.
  • Set A Good Example – Lastly, the best way to help your children inherit good oral hygiene is by taking care of your own teeth. If you set an example of brushing and flossing daily and visiting your own dentist every 6 months for a dental cleaning and exam, your child will be more likely to pick up on these habits.

For more tips on how to help your kids have a cavity-free childhood, or if it’s time to make appointments for dental cleanings and exams, please call Piedmont Pediatric Dentistry today! Our child’s dental office is located here in Greensboro, NC.

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