Here’s an interesting story from one of our patients here at Tharp & Klaus Dental Clinic. We love interacting with our patients and occasionally we’ll get a question that baffles us or makes us think.
This particular patient was in her early twenties and had a well-maintained, healthy smile. But she asked the hygienist: “My boyfriend told me that he has gingivitis. Will I get it if we kiss?”
While it may sound silly at first, it’s an interesting question: are oral diseases like gum disease contagious through actions like kissing?
Let’s take a look at how gum disease is caused, and the truth behind whether or not it can spread.
Gum disease is the result of a bacterial infection in the gum tissue that causes the tissues around the teeth to become inflamed. This typically occurs due to poor oral health care.
Habits like neglecting to brush your teeth or floss while consuming a diet with large amounts of sugary or carbohydrate-heavy foods tend to be the cause. When food particles are left in between your teeth, they can fester and become food for the infectious bacteria.
Other symptoms of gum disease include:
If left untreated, gum disease can turn into the more extreme form of periodontal disease. This is a larger threat to your smile, as it causes the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth and loosen their hold as a result.
Worsening symptoms can include:
Now, to answer our patient’s question: is gum disease contagious through contact like kissing? The answer is: It depends!
Every day we expose our oral health to various benign bacteria. Simply through kissing, we share over 80 million bacteria with our partner. You can even get bacteria from your dog, if you let it lick you on the face near your mouth.
It’s true that these bacteria, especially the ones that contribute to gum disease, can be transferred through kissing. But as long as we maintain a good oral health regimen, we can keep those bacteria at bay.
Should you be worried about transfer if you regularly brush your teeth and floss? Our answer is no, you shouldn’t worry. However, if your partner has gingivitis, they could possibly spread their germs more quickly by sharing utensils, straws, cups, toothbrushes, or other tools that have direct contact with their mouth.
You may be asking yourself, why all this fuss about taking care of your gums? Many studies have shown a link between your oral health and your bodily health. Often these same bacteria which cause gum disease travel through the bloodstream to other parts of your body, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory systems.
For pregnant women, having rampant gum disease has been linked to delivering a baby pre-term. The more extreme form of periodontal disease also has links to diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and stroke. Since your mouth is the entrance to the body, it’s important to take care of it.
Now, we’re not saying you should stop kissing your partner! The best way to defend against gum disease and bacteria is to maintain good dental care habits: brushing your teeth, flossing, visiting us every six months for a hygiene visit, and bring any concerns to our attention.
Another tip is to be aware of what it is you’re eating. Consuming sugary or acidic foods can weaken the enamel, feed the bacteria that cause cavities, and may lead to an infection in your gums. It’s okay to indulge in those delicious treats, but keep it all in moderation.
Have you noticed a change in your gums? Instead of worrying, contact us for an oral health evaluation and cleaning. This way, you can still kiss the ones you love without having to worry about bacterial threats to your beautiful smile.
We recommend routine dental hygiene visits here in our Jackson, MS office. You will receive top-notch care, including cleaning, polishing, flossing, and a fluoride treatment. These tasks are essential to protecting your teeth against plaque and tartar build-up, which also largely contribute to gum disease.
We also track your oral health using progress checks that include scans of your smile, keeping an eye on problem areas. If you have any questions about how you can improve your oral health at home, give us a call today at 601-939-4100. Or, just fill out the submission form on this page and we’ll get right back to you.
Consult With Dentists Dr. Tharp & Dr. Klaus
whether you need a teeth cleaning, oral screening, or restorative dental care in Jackson, MS, trust in our team to deliver quality dental services that will leave you with a smile. We believe that each and every patient that walks through our door deserves a great smile, and we’ll work with you to find the treatments that fit your needs. During our consultations, you’ll be able to ask your questions one-on-one, get evaluated, and learn more about the ins and outs of your dental treatment.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today; you deserve a beautiful brilliant smile.