How Contagious is Oral Bacteria?

Gingivitis and periodontal disease are rampant among children and adults throughout the United States, and the culprit is not simply sugary foods. Tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria that not only thrive on the foods that we eat (and forget to brush and floss away), but can also spread by direct contact with the saliva of another person with an oral bacterial infection. Sharing a bite of the same pizza, eating with unwashed utensils, and even kissing can spread the germs that collect along the gum line and erode tooth enamel.

Countless studies in recent years have identified just how prevalent the spread of harmful oral bacteria is in our day-to-day lives. A 2007 study from the University of Queensland’s School of Dentistry in Australia found that infants between the ages of 3 months and 24 months were increasingly likely to catch cavity-causing germs from their mothers as a result of sharing food.

It should be noted that infants and children are far more susceptible to contagious oral bacteria than adults because their immune systems are not yet strong enough to combat the harmful germs.

Is All Oral Bacteria Harmful?

The human mouth is home to a wide range of bacteria species that have little to no impact on our dental or overall health. Some, known as probiotics, actually help us digest and absorb the nutrients in our foods, while others even protect the teeth and gums from harmful germs. Scientists have identified more than 700 different varieties of oral bacteria, but each individual person typically only have between 34 to 72 different strains living among their teeth, gums, cheeks, and tongue.

The most common infectious oral bacteria that can be spread from person to person via saliva include Porphyromonas Gingivalis, Streptococus Mutans, and Actinobacillus Actinomycetemcomitans. When these germs spread to a person’s mouth, they feed on sugar and food debris, creating an acid that breaks down protective tooth enamel. As the oral bacterial growth increases, it leads to plaque, which is even more damaging to the teeth. This is why a thorough, consistent oral hygiene plan is so crucial for preventing an oral bacterial infection that leads to decay.

How Contagious Oral Bacterial Infections Can Harm Your Overall Health

Extensive research has revealed that periodontal health plays a large role in the overall health and well being of our entire bodies. For example, individuals with an oral bacterial infection, such as gingivitis or periodontitis, have an increased risk of developing other health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer.

An oral bacterial infection can lead to future health issues as a result of inflammation. The body’s immune system attempts to fight off harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses by drawing plasma proteins, white blood cells, and other immune cells to the affected area. However, in this process, contagious oral bacteria can enter the blood stream and spread to vital organs, such as the heart and even the brain.

Oral bacterial infections have been linked to the following diseases:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Respiratory disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease/Dementia
  • Osteoporosis

Preventing the Spread of Contagious Oral Bacteria

In order to prevent gum disease or reduce the risk of life-threatening systemic disease, it is crucial to get effective treatment for oral bacterial infections on a regular basis. The early stages of gingivitis and more severe forms of gum disease can be managed with consistent dental hygiene, regular dental cleanings, and expert care.

Some of the most common signs of early decay caused by oral bacteria is plaque build up and gum recession. The more plaque builds up and wears away at the teeth and gums, the further down the gums recede and put teeth at risk of serious, permanent damage. At the CENTER for Advanced Periodontal Implant Therapy, our periodontal specialists can provide cutting-edge treatment to help rebuild lost gum tissue and reduce the long-term impact of gingivitis and gum disease.

Our RejuvaGum Lift™ treatment uses a patient’s own immune cells to safely and effectively heal lost gum tissue for stronger, healthier teeth. RejuvaGum Lift™ is a state-of-the-art process that utilizes the body’s natural healing process to achieve faster results without having to rely on tissue grafts, which are traditionally used to treat gum pockets. RejuvaGum Lift™ is simple to perform and does not require a lengthy, uncomfortable recovery period.

Schedule a Consultation with a Certified Periodontist Today

If you suspect that you are suffering the gum recession effects of gingivitis or gum disease, take action to protect your health against an oral bacterial infection today! Don’t wait to get a thorough screening and treatment at the CENTER for Advanced Periodontal and Implant Therapy. Dr. Aalam and Dr. Krivitsky are expert periodontists and will create an effective treatment plan based on your specific needs.  To schedule an appointment, please call us at 310.504.1845.