At Elrod Orthodontics I see patients of all ages but a large portion of my patients are teens. If you are a parent of a teen, like I once was, you know there are many things you can worry about. One of those things: dating and everything that goes along with dating.
Rumors are going around that bacteria from tooth decay can be transmitted through saliva when someone is kissing and cause cavities. However, not to worry – that’s not exactly true. (At least for our patients that do brush their teeth often.) Read on to learn more about kissing & cavities.
Why Do People Think Kissing Causes Cavities?
It’s true that those with high bacteria counts typically have an increase in cavities. However, everyone always has some bacteria in their mouths. And just because someone is swapping saliva, that doesn’t mean that cavities or the risk of tooth decay is traveling along with that. Cavities are not formed from bacteria alone, but rather acid-producing germs that come from bacteria. Unless food is being passed to the surfaces and in between the teeth, causing for more acid production, kissing will not increase cavity risk. It’s said that it takes 24 hours for bacteria to accumulate enough acid to damage teeth. If someone is brushing (and especially flossing) at least once/day, that should greatly remove the risk for cavities and tooth decay. Even if kissing is involved.
How to Prevent Acid-Build Up?
Now we suppose if someone had a really dirty mouth (and we’re not talking about language choice), there could be a higher risk of passing bacteria-causing-cavities via kissing – but the person they were kissing would have to have the same dental habits. However if you’re brushing, flossing and rinsing (like we recommend to all our orthodontic patients), you should eliminate the germs that cause cavities. The best way to prevent any type of tooth decay and ensure the prettiest smile is to take steps that will help eliminate bacteria from your mouth.
The best way to eliminate bacteria from your mouth is to brush your teeth often. If you have braces, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day – and actually if you can brush four times, that is great! (after each meal and before bed.)
There are some gums that can help eliminate the bad bacteria in a hurry. As our orthodontic office always recommends, sugar-free gum is the best way to go. Gum with sugar will only increase the problem you have with bacteria. Especially for those in braces, the sugar likes to hide in the small crooks of your teeth or brackets, creating a harvest of bacteria to grow and cause cavities down the line. If you choose to chew gum, please chew sugar-free.
Flossing removes the plaque that holds in the germs. If you floss once/day, you remove any food, sugar or other acid-producing germs that cause tooth decay. It takes 24 hours for germs to begin destroying your teeth, which is why a daily flossing routine greatly reduces your cavity risk.
Use The Best Products on Your Braces
A great way to decrease the amount of sugar and bacteria build-up in your braces is by using the products in the Ortho Essentials Program, which includes an Oral-B Electric Toothbrush, Crest Pro-Health toothpaste, floss, and rinse! At our office we believe so highly in the positive effects of this system that we offer a free kit to all of our new banding patients.
Parents and teens alike should both work toward positive oral health! If you have younger children, stay locked into our blog for a future post on babies and cavities! A bacteria-free mouth creates less cavities which creates more smiles – for all ages!