Look at any medical profession, and you’re bound to find a slew of misconceptions. Particularly about specific diseases. American dental care, in particular, is slathered with them. For instance, not many might know how babies get tooth decay. (Hint: they get it from someone close to them.) Or where the worst cavities form. (Usually, it’s in places the eye can’t see.) One particular query, however, might send a lot of heads scratching. Can you get gum disease from kissing?
Of course, it can be strange to think about. Kissing, after all, seems like something reserved for significant others and the like. But for some people, it’s a gesture used with family members and friends, usually a pocket of affection for the people we value. In a way, it’s inevitable, so it’s fair game to take the necessary precautions in regards to your dental health and overall health.
While you might not be kissing someone with gum disease any time soon, there’s no harm in getting yourself prepared. So is gingivitis contagious through kissing? Let’s find out.
How are harmful oral bacteria transmitted?
Before we answer whether you can get gum disease from kissing, let’s first see which dental problems can be transmitted.
For one, the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay can be transmitted through family members. Babies, in particular, are very vulnerable to this transmission. When a family member, especially mothers, have a history of poor oral hygiene habits, they accumulate the bad bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay. And these bacteria can linger in their saliva. So when saliva transfer occurs—either through shared eating implements or through kissing—these bacteria, in turn, get transferred too. When they remain in the mouth for too long, that’s when tooth decay and dental problems occur.
So what does this mean for gum disease and kissing?
It’s the bacteria that cause gum disease that gets transferred
So can you get gum disease from kissing? Well, not directly. Just because your partner has periodontitis doesn’t mean you’ll get gum disease right away. And unlike other infectious diseases, there’s no incubation period from the moment saliva transfer occurs. But when you do kiss, you do increase your chances of getting some form of gum disease.
Why is this so? When your family member or partner has gum disease, their poor oral hygiene habits exacerbated the bad bacteria they already have. These bacteria, in turn, are what caused their dental problems. And when someone has a concentrated amount of bacteria that cause gum disease in their mouth, the higher chances they have for transmitting it to another person.
But there’s good news to be had here. Just because you kiss someone with a form of gum disease doesn’t mean you’re sure to contract it. With good oral hygiene habits, these dental problems become preventable in the first place. Brushing and flossing is your first line of defense. When you do this, you counteract any bad bacteria build-up that might occur during the day. And when you do this often, you could mitigate their numbers day by day.
So if your partner has periodontitis or gingivitis, a little kiss shouldn’t hurt. Whether you’d want to kiss them, on the other hand, is another case entirely.