Tooth decay happens when a cavity forms in a tooth and tooth decay-causing bacteria enter the cavity and accelerate the damage. Once inside a cavity, oral bacteria can spread and multiply. But can the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay spread to surrounding teeth or even other people?
Bad oral bacteria can spread to other people, especially children
It is possible for the worst strains of oral bacteria to spread to other people. Streptococcus mutans is the worst of the bad oral bacteria found in most people's mouths. However, most adults already have oral bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
Research shows that parents can spread tooth decay-causing bacteria to their babies and young children via kisses, blowing on food, and sharing utensils. Fortunately, oral bacteria are not the sole cause of the conditions that lead to tooth decay.
The most common conditions leading to tooth decay are:
- Acidic foods that cause enamel demineralization.
- Sugary foods that feed bad oral bacteria, which then secrete acids.
- Poor oral hygiene, which leads to an abundance of tooth decay causing-bacteria.
- The formation of cavities due to demineralization.
If all of these conditions are present, then tooth decay will occur. To protect your children's teeth and your teeth, limit your intake of sugary and acidic foods and drinks. Practice excellent oral health too.
Tooth decay doesn't spread to other teeth
Tooth decay itself doesn't spread from one tooth to another. However, the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay do spread throughout the oral cavity if the conditions are right. So if enamel demineralization occurs in a mouth with a large population of oral bacteria, then tooth decay will soon follow. Tooth decay can affect multiple teeth at once, but it doesn't spread.
Protect Your Children's teeth from tooth decay
Children's teeth are important to their jawbone development and oral development. Teeth lost to tooth decay prematurely can impede jawbone and oral development in children.
Protect your children's teeth with preventative steps like fluoride treatments and dental sealants to stop tooth demineralization from occurring. Your local pediatric dentist can provide these treatments for your child in a child-friendly manner.
And although you might not be able to prevent bad oral bacteria from entering your child's mouth at some stage, you can prevent demineralization of their teeth by limiting sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
Most importantly of all, ensure that you and your children brush your teeth for two minutes morning and night. This will reduce the number of oral bacteria in your mouth.
For more information on pediatric dentistry, contact a professional near you.