Is caries infectious?
Caries is the most common dental disease among adolescents, but it is also a serious problem for most adults - shows a statistical study of the World Health Organization. Proceeding from this fact, more and more scientists agree that caries is contagious and is transmitted from both sick to healthy tooth, and from person to person. In support of this hypothesis, numerous studies have been made, but not yet adopted a unanimous opinion on the matter.
Caries arises as a result from demineralization of tooth enamel and dentin by the action of several types of Streptococcal bacteria. The biggest "contributers" to the formation of the well-known black holes in teeth are Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrin. These specific bacteria produce enzymes that break down carbohydrates received through food. As a result of this metabolic process acids are released, destroying the teeth.
Is caries a transmittable disease?
Already in the 16th century, an assumption was born that dental decay is linked to the presence of bacteria in the plaque, after such bacteria are observed under a microscope. Only a few hundred years later, however, it became clear that not all of the oral cavity microorganisms can cause caries. The first evidence of this came in 1960 with the experiments of Dr. Paul Keyes. He isolates two groups of hamsters - one affected by dental problems, and the second - in excellent health. The teeth of all hamsters were naturally surrounded by a variety of microorganisms, but only in the ones that developed caries streptococci was present. Along with this discovery, Keys made another one, this time much more spectacular. Not long after the placement of the experimental animals in a same cage, caries began to appear in healthy hamsters as well - a fact which raises the question whether the disease is of infectious character.
Later, including today, more studies are conducted under the supervision of various scientists, in which besides experimental animals participate volunteers, too. Regardless of their outcome, however, there are still conflicting views on the issue, since in 2011 respected organizations like the UN and the World Dental Federation attributed the caries to the group of non-infectious diseases in their official statements.
Scientific debate over whether caries is transmittable is irrelevant for patients when there are effective methods for prevention, accessible to all.
And that means above all:
- mantaining perfect oral hygiene - using thread, brush and mouthwash in this sequence
- cleaning your teeth, gums and tongue thoroughly after any consumption of food and beverages;
- to limit the consumption of simple carbohydrates (candy, sodas and et.) that serve as food for bacteria in dental plaque;
- to increase the efficiency of mechanical brushing by using mouthwash and toothpaste that strengthens enamel, prevents the formation of deposits and has bactericidal properties;
- to visit the dentist regularly and to promptly treat caries before it increases in size and depth.
And just in case, not to use common kitchen utensils and toothbrushes.