Is Periodontal Disease Contagious?

Periodontal disease is an unpleasant problem occurring within the mouth that affects many people around the world, but is it contagious?

Is Periodontal Disease Contagious

In this article, we are going to be answering this question, but we are also going to be looking at periodontal disease as a whole as well. Let’s get started. 

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease affects the structures that form around the teeth, infecting them and causing pain and inflammation.

The term translates literally to “around teeth” as “peri” means around and “odontal” means teeth.

It is able to affect pretty much every area that can be found around your teeth, including the gums, the alveolar bone, the periodontal ligament and the cementum, which covers the roots of the tooth. 

This is a disease that is caused by a build-up of bacteria within dental plaque. Dental plaque refers to the sticky substance that forms on the teeth.

Periodontal disease is caused by the cells in your immune system trying to rid themselves of this bacteria within the plaque.

In doing so, your cells release a substance that causes the gums, the alveolar bone or the periodontal ligament to become swollen, inflamed and damaged. 

This disease can cause a lot of damage in the long run, with the more advanced stages of the disease leading to possible tooth loss.

When the gums begin to bleed and swell significantly, this could indicate that you are experiencing the first stage of periodontal disease.

Is Periodontal Disease Contagious?

This is a question that is not as simple to answer as it might seem, with scientific research and evidence supporting the theory that the disease can be spread from person to person still ongoing.

The disease is not contagious in the traditional sense, in that it is not something that you are going to be able to pass on to someone else with ease.

However, research has been conducted that shows that close contact and the sharing of saliva could cause the infection to spread.

This research has been conducted via the use of DNA coding techniques, which can track the infection from person to person.

The results suggest that saliva sharing- such as from kissing- could slightly increase the risk of bacteria transmission and gum problems if saliva is shared with someone suffering from periodontal disease. 

There are also studies that have been conducted which suggest saliva contact within family settings could increase the chance of sharing that bacterium via activities such as using the same cutlery for food, sneezing and coughing.

As mentioned, the research regarding the contagious nature of periodontal disease is still very much ongoing.

If you do find that you have periodontal disease and are worried about your family, be more mindful when it comes to thoroughly cleaning utensils and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze to be on the safe side. 

Whilst periodontal disease is not contagious in the traditional sense, it is still wise to maintain the best possible oral hygiene to avoid it and- if you already have it- to err on the side of caution.

What Are The Warning Signs Of Periodontal Disease?

We briefly touched on this above, but let’s take a closer look at some of the symptoms that should have you reaching out to your dentist for a check-up:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Tender gums
  • Receding gums
  • Red gums
  • Gums that are pulling away from your teeth
  • A painful sensation when chewing 
  • General mouth pain
  • A change in your bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures
  • Loose teeth
  • Very sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • A bad taste in the mouth that lingers 

Are There Any Risk Factors For Periodontal Disease?

There are health and lifestyle factors to take into consideration that can increase the chance of you developing periodontal disease at some point in your life. Here are a few noteworthy risk factors:

  • A lack of adequate oral hygiene
  • Teeth that are crooked 
  • Teeth with fillings that have become defective
  • Bridges for teeth that do not fit properly
  • Diabetes 
  • Underlying immunodeficiency 
  • Inherited from family
  • Smoking
  • Medication that can cause dry mouth
  • Hormonal changes in women that can be caused by factors such as oral contraceptives and pregnancy  

How Can You Avoid Periodontal Disease?

If you are dealing with any of the above risk factors, it might be harder for you to protect yourself against periodontal disease.

Is Periodontal Disease Contagious (1)

However, there are steps that you can take to prevent the disease as much as you possibly can, such as the following:

  • Maintain the best dental and oral hygiene that you can. To do this, brush your teeth and use dental floss daily, as this will help eliminate any bacteria build-ups within the plaque, which is the main culprit of gum disease. 
  • Visit a dentist regularly- at least once every year- for check-ups. You might want to do this more frequently if you exhibit any signs or symptoms of the periodontal disease mentioned above. 
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash, as these can effectively reduce the bacteria within the plaque that causes the disease. 
  • Be aware of the risk factors you might be able to change, such as poor diet or unhealthy habits such as smoking. Once you have pinned down the aspects where you can make a difference, do your best to make the changes you need to become healthier and reduce the risk of periodontal disease.

Final Thoughts 

When it comes to periodontal disease, it is not contagious in the word’s traditional meaning.

However, it can be spread via saliva if you are not careful, which could be detrimental to those in your household and your husband/wife/partner.

Maintain the best possible oral hygiene to avoid this and visit the dentist regularly to ensure that your teeth, mouth and gums stay tip-top!

Andrew Kemp
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