|Posted on August 30, 2013 at 12:30 AM|
For those of you who aren't aware, periodontal (gum) disease is contagious. Since it is primarily a bacterial infection, you can give it to or get it from anyone that you swap saliva with.
Photo credit Creative Commons: John Matthew Smith
And this doesn’t necessarily mean through kissing. You can actually “catch’ someone else’s mouth germs by sharing drinks and food. Common sense has always told us not to share food when the other person is sick with a cold or fever. But now, unless you are knowledgeable as to their periodontal health, you might want to reconsider having a sip or taste of whatever it is that they are ingesting.
Personally, I have seen this in my practice. A patient has perfect gum health for years and then all of a sudden, they don’t. There could be many reasons for this (stress, change in home oral hygiene, extreme illness), but on occasion it has occurred when there is a change in who they are dating. Then when they have moved on, their gums miraculously improve.
Gum disease can also be passed onto your children and vice versa. Even more interesting is the germ transfer between pets and humans. A recent study has shown that a particular mouth microbe that is specific to dogs, was found in the mouths of up to 16% of dog owners. Unfortunately, most dogs suffer from periodontitis and have plenty of saliva loaded with bad bacteria. And when they lick you, there’s a chance that the harmful bacteria can be transferred to your mouth.
So for now, the safest way to avoid “catching” periodontal disease, besides daily flossing and brushing, would be to consciously be aware of all the possible ways that others’ saliva can enter your mouth. And do your best to minimize it.
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