Colds, stomach bugs, chicken pox – we all know those ailments are contagious. Did you know cavities can be passed to others too? It doesn’t sound possible, but the reason lies with the bacteria in your mouth that can lead to tooth decay. Cavities only develop with bacteria present, and bacteria must get into your mouth somehow. That’s where the contagious part comes into the picture. So how can you prevent the spread of cavities among your family and friends? Here are some tips:
• Visit your dentist for regular cleanings and exams. This will prevent decay from becoming cavities, and reduce bacteria in your mouth. Never wait until you are in pain to see your dentist; have checkups before the warning signs of cavities hit.
• Chew sugarless gum several times a day for at least five minutes. Look for brands that contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener shown to increase saliva production that can help reduce bacteria.
• Use a mouth rinse. The stronger kinds can be prescribed by your dentist, and contain chlorhexidine. This powerful antiseptic combats bacteria and can prevent decay from forming cavities.
• Skip the fancy water. Instead, drink tap water because it contains fluoride that will help your teeth resist plaque.
• Don’t share your germs. Avoid sharing eating utensils with others, cover your mouth when you sneeze, and make smart choices in general when it comes to germs.
• Follow the rules of good dental hygiene. Brush several times a day, floss at least once a day, and avoid sugary snacks. Also teach your family the same dental habits so everyone has the best chance for good oral health.