Avoid Catching a Cavity this Valentine’s Day

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CDA offers tips for protecting yourself and your children against cavities

“Cavity-causing bacteria can be spread from person to person through a variety of ways, including kissing," said CDA President-Elect Lindsey Robinson, DDS.

On the day known for love, affection and sweets, the California Dental Association suggests making oral health a priority to keep your Valentine’s Day cavity free. Before you pucker up with your sweetheart, remember that just like colds and flus, cavities can be contagious.

“If you have ever had a cavity, you carry the bacteria that cause tooth decay,” said CDA President-Elect Lindsey Robinson, DDS. “Cavity-causing bacteria can be spread from person to person through a variety of ways, including kissing. So it’s especially important to practice good oral hygiene habits to reduce the risk of transmitting the bacteria.”

The cavity-causing bacteria are passed through the transfer of saliva, which can occur by sharing utensils, food, drinks, toothbrushes and even kissing a child on the mouth. Research shows that children are not born with the bacteria that cause decay, but are infected with it – usually at an early age from their caregiver, primarily their mother.

Prevention starts early with the CDA Foundation’s Cavity Keep Away that offers dental disease prevention tips, including dental hygiene and treatment for pregnant women to reduce the risk of passing cavity-causing bacteria on to their children. Other tips include wiping infants’ gums twice a day with a washcloth; cleaning pacifiers and bottles with soap and water, not spit; each family member using his or her own toothbrush, spoon, fork or cup; providing only water in a baby’s bottle at bed time; and using a rice-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste every time you brush your baby’s teeth.

“It is important for everyone to understand that cavity prevention starts even before a child is born,” said Robinson, referring to Cavity Keep Away, which was created for patients as a result of the Foundation’s publication of “Oral Health During Pregnancy and Early Childhood: Evidence-Based Guidelines for Health Professionals.”

At any age, making good oral hygiene a priority can reduce the risk of spreading these bacteria. Parents should continue to help children brush and floss their teeth until they have mastered the skill – usually around age 7.

Good oral hygiene habits, including a routine of brushing with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes at least twice a day, flossing regularly and scheduling periodic dental checkups, will give you and your sweetheart something to smile about for Valentine’s Day.

About the California Dental Association
The California Dental Association is the non-profit organization representing organized dentistry in California. Founded in 1870, CDA is committed to the success of our members in
service to their patients and the public. CDA also contributes to the oral health of Californians through various comprehensive programs and advocacy. CDA’s membership consists of more than 25,000 dentists, making it the largest constituent of the American Dental Association. For more information, visit cda.org.

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Alicia Malaby
California Dental Association
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