Are Cavities Contagious? The Shocking Truth

The flu. Chickenpox. Measles. There are a lot of contagious illnesses out there. But, are cavities contagious? It seems like a crazy idea at first. But, there’s more truth to it than you think. Discover the contagious aspect of cavities, and what you can do to prevent them.

What Are Cavities?

In simple terms, cavities (also called caries or tooth decay) are holes in your teeth. These holes are permanently damaged areas on your enamel, the hard outer layer of your teeth. What’s worse, these holes are constantly expanding. So, a cavity can only get worse.

There are three types of cavities: pit and fissure, smooth surface, and root cavities. These are all classified based on the surfaces of the teeth that they impact.

Cavities are also extremely common. Over 90% of people in the United States have had cavities. Chances are, you know someone that has a cavity or has had one. And that’s why it’s important to understand if they really are contagious. 

How Do Cavities Form?

There are various reasons why cavities can form, including contagion. But, how they form happens the same way each time.

A sticky film of bacteria called plaque builds up on your teeth. This bacteria eats sugar and releases acid. The plaque bacteria’s acid destroys your tooth enamel, and the result is tooth decay. When you eat sugary or acidic foods, this process becomes even faster.

If you don’t remove it, plaque turns into a hard substance called tartar. At that point, only a dentist can remove it.

Are Cavities Contagious?

Shockingly, cavities are contagious. You can’t “catch a cavity” like you can catch a cold. However, you can “catch” cavities when you share bacteria with someone who has cavities or poor dental hygiene. Technically, that makes cavities a contagious disease.

The bacteria called streptococcus mutans is the real culprit behind cavities. As with any other contagious ailment, this bacteria can be spread from one person to another. 

And the most common ways to spread cavities? Sharing eating utensils and kissing.

Why Are Cavities Dangerous?

You may think that a tiny hole in your tooth isn’t something to worry about. But, a cavity can quickly become painful. It can even threaten your life.

Since cavities are permanent and constantly expanding, they pose danger over time. Once the cavity eats through your enamel and dentin, tooth decay can reach your nerves. By this point, cavities are excruciatingly painful. And losing your tooth is the least of your worries now.

If you still don’t get treatment for cavities, it can get worse. Tooth decay can spread to your face and lymph nodes. Ultimately, this decay and infection can cause heart disease and strokes. And these are definitely life-threatening conditions.

Cavities Are Even More Contagious For Children

Researchers found that 30% of three-month-olds, 60% of six-month-olds, and 80% of two-year-olds were infected with cavity-causing bacteria. The reason for this is because the contagious cavities were passed on to them by their parents.

No matter how loving and caring parents are, if they have cavity-causing bacteria, they can easily infect their children. But, of course, adults can pass the contagion to other adults just as easily.

How to Prevent Cavities

Luckily, preventing cavities is easy. Here’s what you should do and avoid to lower your chance of catching contagious cavities and developing them.

Prevent Cavity Contagion

Since cavities are contagious, you need to be mindful of who you share bacteria with. If you live with someone who has cavities, or who has poor dental hygiene, monitor what you share.

Avoid eating with the same utensils, sharing water bottles, and kissing with that person. At least until they get treatment for their cavities.

And if you’re the one with the cavity, be mindful of the people you come in contact with. Warn them about your condition and the contagious nature of cavities. And teach them how to take steps to prevent cavities. Finally, don’t share glasses, toothbrushes or kisses with anyone if you have a cavity.

Most importantly, be sure to get treatment as soon as possible.

Prevent Cavity Development

The most important this you can do to prevent cavities is to practice proper dental hygiene. Brush and floss regularly. Ideally, you should brush your teeth twice a day. Cleaning your tongue regularly is also very effective in eliminating cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth.

Fluoride is a natural material that strengthens your enamel. While it can’t reverse a cavity, it can strengthen your teeth against the bacteria that causes it. Use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities easily.

One of your greatest natural defenses against cavities is your saliva. It washes away the bacteria before they form cavities. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and increase your saliva production.

Since the bacteria that causes cavity contagion feeds on sugar, avoiding sugary foods and drinks can help lower the risk of tooth decay. Regular dental cleanings and oral examinations can also help keep your dental hygiene healthy.

What to Do If You Have a Cavity

Firstly, you need to know how to tell if you have a cavity. Tooth sensitivity, pain, and unusual discoloration are clear signs of a cavity. 

If you notice that you have a cavity, turn to a dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you receive treatment for it, the less likely you’ll develop complications. And even better, you won’t be contagious anymore either.

Your dentist will evaluate the type and severity of your cavity, and they’ll recommend the most effective treatment for it. Common cavity treatments are fillings, dental crowns, and root canals

Even if your tooth is beyond saving, a dentist can recommend an alternative that saves the beauty of your smile.

Save On Your Cavity Treatment

The best way to prevent contagious cavities from destroying your teeth and dental health is with regular dentist visits. However, a lot of people don’t go to the dentist because of the cost. 

Even if they have cavities, they fear the price of the treatments. But that doesn’t have to be the case for you.

With a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health. Our dental discount plan can unlock huge savings at participating dentists. Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances at participating dentists.

Save on all your cavity treatments and sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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Deteriorating Teeth With Old Age


Aging is an inevitable part of life. Decades of eating, drinking, and talking certainly take a toll on your teeth. Deteriorating teeth is a common sign of aging. Taking care of your dental health and preventing tooth decay is crucial to keep the teeth you were born with. Learn about the risks of aging on your dental health and what you can do to keep your teeth in tip-top shape.

You Don’t Have to Lose Your Teeth

Old age used to mean dentures and veneers. People over the age of fifty didn’t usually keep their own teeth. Due to their oral hygiene, the effects of aging, and not visiting the dentist, they lost several or all of their teeth.

But, that doesn’t have to happen to you. If you understand the effects of aging on your teeth, and you actively try to prevent and treat dental issues, you have every chance to keep your own teeth throughout your life. 

The 5 Biggest Dental Problems For People Over 50

Wrinkles aren’t the only sign of aging. Deteriorating teeth are just as telling about a person’s age. And we’re not just talking about missing teeth. Here are the most common signs of aging on your teeth and dental health.

1. Dry Mouth Is a Common Side Effect of Medication

Saliva actually helps clean teeth regularly. When you lack the necessary amount of saliva, you have dry mouth. And this can be harmful to your teeth. One reason dry mouth is more common in older age is because it is a side effect of many medications, and taking medication is more common among older age groups.

A dry mouth doesn't necessarily mean you are thirsty all of the time. A common symptom of this condition is bad breath, and a sticky feeling in your mouth. You may also have difficulty swallowing.  

Luckily, dry mouth is an easy symptom to fix. Make sure you drink more water than usual. Chewing on sugar free gum can also help. If you still have dry mouth, a dentist can recommend a more effective treatment.

2. Gingivitis Can Turn Into a Serious Disease

If your gums are red, swollen, and bleed easily, gingivitis is probably the culprit. Gingivitis left untreated can turn into gum disease, which can lead to even more problems. You could lose your teeth due to more infection. But, you’d be lucky if your deteriorating teeth only stop there.

Untreated gum disease can lead to heart disease and even strokes. Luckily, it’s an easily preventable condition. All you need to do is have regular dental visits and dental care.

3. Tooth Decay Is the Most Common Sign of Deteriorating Teeth

One of the biggest signs of deteriorating teeth is tooth decay. The cause of this condition lies in poor dental hygiene. 

When you don’t brush your teeth and floss regularly, bacteria eats away at your teeth. Cavities can form, which may be painful. These cavities are often near old fillings or hard-to-reach spaces.

The deterioration of your teeth doesn’t stop at cavities though. The decay can continue to your gums, which can lead to early-stage gum disease. And you know that untreated gum disease could result in life-threatening conditions. 

Although your deteriorating teeth can be a great concern as you age, you can easily prevent it. Regular dental visits and possibly a boost in fluoride will help prevent tooth decay.

4. Make Sure Your Dentist Checks For Signs of Oral Cancer

The chance of having oral cancer rises with age. Smokers and heavy drinkers are even more at-risk of this illness. The best way to treat oral cancer is to receive a diagnosis early on. And the best person to diagnose it is your dentist.

Make sure your dentist checks for possible signs of oral cancer at your oral examination. This is just another reason regular dentist visits are crucial as you age.

5. Overcrowding Teeth Are a Common Problem for People Over 50

Your teeth shift with age. You may not even notice that they gradually overcrowd each other over time. The problem with overcrowded teeth isn’t necessarily aesthetic. The issue comes from the bacteria and food particles that get stuck in overcrowded teeth.

As flossing becomes more and more difficult, aging people abandon their oral hygiene. That’s when cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease develop. This means that overcrowded teeth are a big culprit for deteriorating teeth.

Luckily, not all hope is lost if you have overcrowded teeth above the age of 50. An orthodontist can sometimes fix the overcrowding with a retainer. But, you definitely need to commit to more frequent professional dental cleanings. These procedures can effectively clean your teeth and prevent poor dental hygiene from affecting your health.

Why Taking Care of Your Teeth Is Important

You may think that with today’s dental technology, you don’t have to worry about losing your teeth. You can always get implants, dentures, and veneers, right? Well, dental health is a little bit more complex than that. You need to take care of your aging mouth because you eat and talk with it.

If you take care of your deteriorating teeth, you can:

  • Avoid pain: Cavities and gum disease aren’t just dangerous. They’re also very painful. Seeing how easy it is to prevent them, it’s much easier to avoid the pain in the first place. 
  • Keep your costs low: Fillings, root canals, and dentures all cost money. The cheapest way to take care of your teeth is to try to keep as many of the original ones in your mouth as possible.
  • Prevent serious illnesses: Untreated gum disease can lead to heart problems and strokes. These are life-threatening illnesses. Taking care of your oral health means taking care of your general health as well.

How to Care for Your Deteriorating Teeth as You Age

If you’re over the age of 50, you need to pay special attention to your teeth. If you’re determined to keep as many of your teeth as possible, these 4 simple steps can go a long way in treating deteriorating teeth.

Keep Up With Your Oral Hygiene

You need to brush your teeth, floss, and clean your tongue at least twice a day, every day. Your regular oral hygiene routine can even include mouthwash if you’re so inclined.

If you’ve never brushed your teeth regularly, it’s never too late to start. Pick up this healthy habit, and you’ll see a quick improvement in the health of your teeth and gums.

Monitor Your Symptoms

As you age, you need to listen to your body. If you feel pain, or notice that something’s different about your oral health, speak to a dentist as soon as you can.

The discoloration of your teeth, gums, and tongue can be a sign of a serious illness. And a sharp pain or sensitivity in your teeth can be a cavity you didn’t know about. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, even if they don’t seem related. 

Get Regular Dental Cleanings

Usually, you should get two professional dental cleanings a year. But, as you age, your dentist may recommend you more. Cleaning your overcrowded teeth and the parts of your mouth you can’t reach is crucial to sufficient oral health. 

Visit the Dentist for Oral Exams

Even if you don’t feel any pain, you should still visit a dentist for a regular checkup. A trained professional can notice if something’s wrong before you can. When it comes to deteriorating teeth, safe is definitely better than sorry.

Save Money on the Dentist with Your Deteriorating Teeth

Without a doubt, the best person to examine and treat your deteriorating teeth is the dentist. And as you age, this becomes even more crucial. If you don’t visit a professional, you risk further deterioration, losing your teeth, and even death.

A lot of people avoid going to routine oral exams because of the cost. Luckily, with a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health.

Our dental discount plan can unlock huge savings at participating dentists. How much? Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances at participating dentists. That’s huge!

Ready to save big on your next oral examination for deteriorating teeth? Sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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How to Tell If You Have a Cavity


You’ve heard about cavities. You know how dangerous they are. But still, you’re not quite sure how to recognize a cavity. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This guide will show you how to tell if you have a cavity, and what you can do about it.

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is permanent damage to your tooth in the form of a hole. It’s also called tooth decay or caries. Cavities happen when the bacteria in your mouth eat away at your enamel. While cavities are irreversible,they’re easily treatable if you catch them in time.

What Types of Cavities Are There?

There are three main types of cavities: pit and fissure, smooth surface, and root cavities. They differ based on where your cavity is on the tooth. Knowing where cavities form can help make it easy for you to find them. Plus, you’ll know which areas of your teeth to give extra attention when cleaning.

Pit and Fissure Cavities 

These are the most common. This is when the cavity sits on the top of your tooth. Bacteria easily stick to the grooves and crevices of your back teeth. Luckily, these types of cavities are as easy to treat as it is to find them.

Smooth Surface Cavities

You can find smooth surface cavities on the side of your teeth. They’re less common because the bacteria can’t get a good hold there usually. Still, they do happen. 

Root cavities 

These Cavities are close to the root of your tooth. They mostly happen when gum disease eats away your gums, and your roots become exposed. Unfortunately, due to the lack of enamel, root cavities can quickly become severe. They’re painful and harder to treat.

How to Tell If You Have a Cavity

It’s not easy to tell if you have a cavity. You can’t really see the back of your teeth. Even with a mirror. But, you can always pay attention to how you feel. Your body will alarm you if there’s something wrong in your mouth.

The Symptoms of Cavities

These are the most common symptoms of cavities. If you notice any of these, it’s fair to assume that you have cavities.

  • Toothache, spontaneous pain or pain that occurs without any apparent cause
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot, or cold
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth
  • Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth
  • Pain when you bite down

If you sense any of these symptoms, you should see a dentist as soon as you can. They’ll be able to quickly identify the issue and see if you’ll need treatment.

What Causes Cavities?

The main cause of cavities is a buildup of bacteria. This often forms into plaque and tartar. But, ultimately, the cause of cavities is poor dental hygiene.

If you don’t brush your teeth and floss properly and regularly, the bacteria in your mouth flourishes. You need to take care of your dental hygiene to prevent cavities. 

Risk Factors of Cavities

You’re always at a risk of developing cavities. Especially if you don’t brush your teeth regularly. But, these risk factors give you a higher chance of cavities if you don’t pay attention.

  • Tooth location: You’re more likely to develop cavities in your back teeth. So, make sure to use extra care when you brush your molars and premolars.
  • Sugar: The bacteria that causes cavities loves sugar. Be careful how much sugar you eat, as it can easily lead to cavities. 
  • Food that sticks to your teeth: Apart from sugar, food that sticks in the crooks and crevices of your teeth brings the danger of cavities. Caramel, honey, chips. They’re delicious, but bad for your teeth.
  • Bedtime infant feeding: If you give your baby a bottle to fall asleep, you’re putting them at risk of developing cavities. The food gets stuck in their teeth overnight, and eats away at their teeth.
  • Lack of fluoride: There’s a reason most toothpaste contains fluoride. This chemical strengthens your enamel, and helps you fight against cavities naturally.
  • Dry mouth: After brushing, the best way to get rid of harmful bacteria is with your saliva. It naturally washes them away. But if you have a dry mouth, your body doesn’t produce enough saliva to help wash your teeth.
  • Heartburn: Acid reflux and heartburn make your stomach acid come to your mouth. This acid is very harmful to your enamel. Weaker enamel puts your cavities at greater risk.

The Dangers of Untreated Cavities

When you find a cavity, don’t ignore it. Untreated cavities can lead to far worse complications. When the cavity reaches nerve endings, it will be very painful. You won’t be able to eat. To make matters worse, you’ll feel the pain from the cavity constantly.

Cavities can also get infected. The infection can go beyond the tooth. It spread to the jaw and even up to your eye. If you leave your cavity untreated, you can lose a tooth. But, you can also develop potentially life-threatening conditions.

Save Money With Your Trip to the Dentist

Cavities can be a serious problem. Still, a lot of people hesitate to go to the dentist. That’s because dental procedures to fix cavities can be quite expensive. As a result, a lot of people risk their health to save their wallets.

Luckily, you don’t have to choose between money and your well-being. With Carefree Dental you can unlock big savings on most dental procedures at participating dentists.

It’s simple. Just sign up and get your Carefree Dental Card. Book an appointment with a participating provider. And when you show up for your appointment, show your card. You can save between 15%-50% off your bill per visit, in most instances. 

Ready to save BIG on your dental bills? Sign up to Carefree Dental today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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Dental Myths: Busted!

Everyone knows that their oral health is important. We brush and floss regularly, use fluoride toothpaste, and go to the dentist twice a year. But there are actually plenty of misconceptions surrounding how to actually take care of your teeth. These common dental myths keep getting repeated time and time again, but they’re either partial truths, or entirely incorrect. Here’s the truth about 8 common tooth care myths.

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Which Breathmints Are the Most Effective?

Many breath mints claim to beat bad breath, but not all actually live up to the hype. In fact, some actually make your breath worse at the most inopportune time. Discover what makes the best breath mints so effective, and start enjoying clean, fresh breath again.

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5 Ways to Cut Your Dental Bills in Half

Nearly two in every five American adults have received less dental care than they need or plan to delay treatment because they believe they simply can't afford it, according to an ORC International and Aspen Dental Management study. What's more, 80 percent of those adults know postponing or delaying their dental visits will likely cost them more money in the long run. You don't have to face the physical and financial agony of delayed dental treatment. Just follow these money-saving tips.

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Should I Use an Electric or Regular Toothbrush?

Updated August 19, 2016

There are a million types of toothbrushes out there! What kind should I get? Do I get one with soft bristles? How about medium bristles? Do I choose a small head or a large head? Do I go big and purchase an electric toothbrush or stick to the old-fashioned kind? What about cost? How does it play into the equation? Does an expensive toothbrush mean it cleans my teeth better? There are so many decisions; it can be overwhelming!

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The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Fillings

In the US, most adults have a dental filling or will need one in the future. It is important to know what types are available and what filling options are best.

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Why You Should Always Brush Your Tongue

Problems with bad breath? Want to improve your oral hygiene? Read these handy hints and tips for brushing your tongue and eradicating nasty odours for good.

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Is it Possible to Smile Your Way out of Stress?

Studies show that smiling reduces stress, lowers the heart rate, and makes it easier to deal with challenges. Find out how healthy teeth can improve your smile.

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