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Are Cavities Contagious?

There’s a lot that many people don’t know about cavities. The most that some know is that cavities hurt, and you may need a root canal for a bad one. Knowing more about cavities can help you avoid them altogether. One question that some people have is: are cavities contagious?

Are Cavities Contagious?

Culprits for Cavities


One way to understand cavities is to understand what causes them. Most cavities are caused by bacteria. Like most places in your body, the mouth harbors good and bad bacteria. When there are more harmful bacteria, you can develop tooth decay and gum disease. The bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and produce harmful acids. 

The most common way to develop cavities is through poor oral hygiene. If you fail to brush and floss your teeth regularly, plaque will build on your teeth. Plaque is a type of harmful bacteria that will damage your enamel. You must brush and floss properly to get rid of plaque between your teeth and below your gum line. Otherwise, you can develop serious dental problems. 

There are other factors that can increase your risk of cavities, such as genetics, diet, and lifestyle habits. 

Cavity Transfer: Myth or Reality?

Now, to answer the question: are cavities contagious? 

Cavities are not directly contagious in the same way as a cold or the flu virus. This means that you can’t “catch” cavities. However, developing cavities can be influenced by shared lifestyle habits. For example, similar dietary choices or oral hygiene practices can increase your risk of cavities. 

This means that you won’t develop cavities if you are around someone who has them. If you have good oral hygiene, you likely have nothing to worry about. But, you should avoid certain practices, such as sharing toothbrushes. This is not because you’ll catch cavities. It is because this can spread other harmful bacteria.

While you can’t catch cavities, you can spread bacteria from one mouth to another. 

Saliva and Cavity Risk

Certain activities can spread bacteria. For example, kissing, sharing utensils, or even blowing on hot food can exchange saliva and potentially bacteria. 

Kissing, sharing utensils, or even blowing on hot food can exchange saliva and even bacteria. While this doesn’t mean that cavities are directly contagious, sharing saliva spreads bacteria. Mostly, bacteria are responsible for cavity development. As a result, saliva can introduce bacteria into your mouth. 

Parents can even do this with their children. When sharing utensils or tasting food, they can transfer bacteria. Yet, children are more likely to develop cavities. Therefore, you should encourage good oral hygiene practices early to help reduce cavity risk. 

Child’s Play

Another way that bacteria can spread is with children playing and sharing toys. When children play in close contact with other children, they may share bacteria. This can happen with toys or food. As a result, they can exchange bacteria that can cause cavities. To avoid this, parents should teach their children about oral hygiene. They should also stop habits that can spread bacteria. 

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