Tooth Alert: Are My Cavities Contagious?

sugarfree_rgb-1In spite of your mother’s shaking her finger at your and telling you to brush, those sugar candy bars aren’t the only reason you have cavities. Bacteria in your mouth is the actual start of tooth decay. food debris and sticky things are leaving behind tartar and that can turn into a cavity if you’re not careful. As food mixes with acids and saliva, the germs will cling to the teeth and erode away your tooth enamel. Then, cavities can form.

It doesn’t matter what you eat, a cavity won’t form unless there is some bacteria in the mouth. Germs can spread from your mouth through food and utensils, kissing, sneezing and more. This can indeed make those cavities contagious.

A study in Australia shows in the Dental Journal that tooth decay is perhaps the most common and most infection of oral diseases. According to researchers, up to 30 percent of 3 month old children and 60 percent of 6 month old children and almost 80 percent of all 2 year olds, had already been infected with such bacteria as Streptococcus which can create cavities.

According to researchers, children catch the germs from moms and dads who kiss them on the mouth and pass these germs along to the child.

So, does this mean that you shouldn’t kiss someone who has bad dental track records? Not for dental reasons, however, as an adult you’re less susceptible to such bacteria than the children are as they haven’t built up an immunity. You should be somewhat protected by the mere fact that you’re building a tolerance to such viruses.

Here are some great tips to prevent cavities from spreading in your own family:

See the dentist on a regular basis. Half of all adults skip this important step per the Center for Disease Control. To avoid passing cavities on, schedule regular dental appointments. Warning signs are as simple as a sensitive tooth, holes in the teeth or pain. Many patients avoid the dentist until they are in severe pain. This is a huge mistake. Seeing the dentist every six months can do a lot to help prevent tooth decay. It can reduce the frequency of cavities and slow the spread of bacteria in the mouth.

Get a heavy duty rinse for the mouth as well. If you do have a cavity, you’ll require a filling. For early stage decay, the dentist can give you a mouth rinse that has chlorhexidine in it. This is an antiseptic that will help to fight off bacteria and slow decay which turns to a cavity.

Use sugar free gum. Choose something with an artificial sweetener like xylitol. Use it three times a day for five minutes for best results. Xylitol will boost the production of saliva that can help reduce bacteria.

Don’t share if you don’t have to. If you have little ones, don’t share utensils with them. Don’t taste their food prior to serving it to them unless you use a different utensil. Always cover your mouth when sneezing. Kiss your child on his or her cheek instead of the lips to help prevent germs from spreading. Avoid allowing them to use your utensils as well, many parents forget and do this. Never put the pacifier into your mouth to clean it if it falls on the ground. These simple steps can help to prevent gum disease and tooth decay in young children.

Be a good patient. Take the dentists advice and brush daily after every meal. Floss each day as well and slow down on sugary products. Teach kids the same good habits. Start when kids are young and they will be more likely to follow your instruction.

Avoid fancy waters and switch to tap water. Most of this will have fluoride in it and that will help to build up their teeth.

When should I replace my Toothbrush?

Woman holding a tooth brushIs your toothbrush really clean enough to put in your mouth? What if you knew that recent research has counted as many as 10 million germs all congregating between the bristles of your toothbrush head. The germs and bacteria can live here quite happily even using your toothbrush as a breeding ground for more miniscule microorganisms.

Before you decide to never but that bacteria infested breeding ground back in your mouth, you should know that these bacteria are not a big threat to your oral hygiene. Dr. Richard Price, DMD working out of Newton Mass., says that these bacteria discovered on the toothbrush wonít actually make you sick.

Toothpaste has anti-bacterial agents in its ingredients, these microbes live in moisture and if you give your toothbrush plenty of time to dry you should be safe.

Tips to Keep your Toothbrush in Squeaky-Clean Condition

The best way to keep your toothbrush free of bacteria is to use it correctly, rinse it well with clean water and let it air dry completely, says Dr. Richard Price.

This begins with the correct storage; your toothbrush should be kept upright in a holder never lying on a bathroom surface. You donít have to worry about storing your brush away from other brushes, first of all because germs are airborne, also because germs donít habitually leave one brush for another. If you or someone in the house suffers from an immune deficiency, all necessary preventative measures should be taken to avoid contamination.

If dental hygiene is a point of personal concern and the thought of bacteria is making you sick, you can easily eliminate the bacteria population by soaking your toothbrush in alcohol. Mouthwash is an excellent antibacterial rinse as well. You could also soak your brush in a mixture of half water and half hydrogen peroxide. Boiling your toothbrush is also an effective germ killer.

Oddly enough so-called ìtoothbrush sanitizersî are not nearly as effective as they are hyped up to be. Never try to sanitize you toothbrush in a dishwasher or a microwave oven because you will only succeed in ruining your toothbrush permanently.

When is it Time for a New Toothbrush?

According to the American Dental Association it is recommended that you replace your toothbrush (or if you own the electrical variety, just the head bit) every 3 to 4 months. This time frame is more concerned with the damage to the bristles rather than the bacteria count.

This also depends on the kind of brusher you are. If you fight for your dental hygiene with heavy handed ferocity in your brushing methods you may need to replace your toothbrush even sooner. The signs to change your toothbrush come from the condition that your toothbrush is in not the date you bought it. Bristles that spread every which way are a sign that a tooth brush needs to be replaced.

Childrenísí toothbrushes should be checked regularly being as they will need to be replaced more frequently.

Should your toothbrush be replaced after a bout of illness, like the flu? This will not be necessary, says Dr. Richard Price, as long as your toothbrush is given ample time to dry and thereby kill all disease carrying microbes.

Reminders to help you Remember

Besides eyeballing your toothbrush every so often to search for visible signs of bristle wear and tear; some of the more sophisticated toothbrushes will actually change the colors of their bristles to indicate it is time to be replaced.

You could also form a habit of changing toothbrushes with each trip to the dentists (that is if you schedule bi annual visits to your dentist as recommended) and another replacement half way between visits.

However you choose to remember, donít forget to regularly replace your toothbrush for optimal oral hygiene.

Managing Burning Mouth syndrome

UnknownYou have probably sipped a cup of coffee that was too hot or tried soup that didn’t cool down, and scalded your tongue and mouth. This is only temporary, but it is an unpleasant feeling that you have probably dealt with and forgotten about. However, if you feel this sensation on a regular basis and all day long, then you might have Burning Mouth Syndrome.

Around 5% of Americans are affected with BMS, short for Burning Mouth Syndrome, and it often affects the lower lip and the top of the tongue, as well as the mouth’s roof. Asides from the burning feeling you will likely experience, you might also feel a gritty feeling in your mouth. Changes in your taste buds could also be affected by BMS.

As of now, the cause of the condition is not known. However, there has been some researched done and some believe that it is a neuropathic condition. However, there some culprits, asides from general damage to nerves, that are behind the condition.

Some of the other culprits include having a nutritional deficiencies, such as having a lack of zinc, iron and vitamin B12. Various medications and some conditions such as diabetes, can lead to a dry mouth and so can hormonal changes. Also, Candidiasis can be the culprit, and so can acid reflux.

There may be a link between BMS and anxiety, as well as depression. However, there is more research that is needed before it can be determined if these conditions can cause BMS. As for treatment options, there may be a few for you.

The first thing you will want to do is to visit your primary care physician and have them review your medical history, as well as receive a physical exam, as these can help find what is causing your mouth to burn. The tests you may do include blood tests, which can determine if you have vitamin deficiencies, as well as infections or underlying conditions. You might be tested for allergies.

The treatment that you will receive depends on what exactly is causing BMS. If it is dry mouth causing it, then medications designed to treat dry mouth may help you. If it is a vitamin deficiency, then you might end up taking vitamins as a form of treatment. You might also have to stop using a new toothpaste or mouthwash that you recently switched to, and if that is when BMS first started.

If diabetes or a thyroid problem is the cause of BMS, then your doctor will address the problem. Sometimes, people are prescribed medicine to help relieve pain from nerve damage. Essentially, your doctor will let you know what you can do to treat BMS.

There are also steps you can take to treat BMS. For example, you can drink water on a regular basis and instead of chewing regular gum, go for gum that has no sugar in it. Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Staying away from foods that are acidity, hot and spicy is also a good idea.

The good news is that BMS is not a life or death matter, but it is a quality of life matter. It can be uncomfortable dealing with it on a regular basis, and one of the best things you can do is to visit your dentist. They might be able to help you out, or you can find a doctor who has experience with dealing with patients who have had BMS, as they may be able to help you out.