Metro Dental Health
11150 Fairfax Boulevard
Fairfax, VA 22030
Metro Dental Health
2112 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Is Periodontal Disease Contagious?
People get concerned when they are around someone who has a contagious disease, such as the flu. But what about periodontal (gum) disease?
First, let's look at the disease. Periodontal diseases are caused by microbial infections. There have been more than 300 species of microorganisms found in the periodontal pocket (the gap between your gum and tooth). Not all of these bacteria are considered to be disease-causing.
Most of the time, the bacteria in your mouth is at a level which your immune system can handle. However, there are certain factors which increase the likelihood of disease, including
- Reduction of oral hygiene
- Immune system deficiencies by taking immunosuppressant medication or due to other diseases such as HIV, leukemia, hemophilia
- Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, or taking birth control medications
- Steroid use or some endocrine disorders that can start an exaggerated inflammatory respond to the same amount of bacteria
If you think you're at risk for periodontal disease, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist/periodontist, as early detection is key to successful treatment. But what can we do to prevent spreading this problem to our loved ones?
Infants & Periodontal Disease
The first contact of an infant to bacteria starts from his or her parents. The baby at birth is sterile (has no bacteria in the mouth) and receives its first bacteria from the environment, including family members. Knowing this fact, dentists should encourage all young couples before their baby is born to have a checkup and get treated for any possible disease.
Family Members & Periodontal Disease
Bacteria might not create the same level of disease in a person with a different immune system, but we know that specific bacteria that cause more advanced diseases are found in family members, as they have the same genetic predisposition.
Partners & Periodontal Disease
As bacteria can be transferred from close contacts such as kissing or sharing food, you might want to consider getting your partner checked and treated at the same time to improve the control of bacteria and treatment results.
There is no need to worry if you are sitting next to a colleague who is suffering from a periodontal problem. But if you are a new parent, in a relationship with someone, or genetically predisposed to periodontal disease, it is a good idea to discuss early detection with your dentist/periodontist.