Gingivitis is an uncomfortable disease that affects the gums. Whether you yourself have gingivitis or someone you know does, you might be wondering if the disease can spread. You surely don’t want to pass it off to someone you care about or contract the disease from someone!
So, is gingivitis contagious? 🤔 Today, we’re going to debunk some myths, share some facts, and discuss the best treatment for gingivitis.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis, or gum disease, occurs when the gums get inflamed thanks to a buildup of plaque on the teeth. Plaque (a bacterial film) naturally occurs on the teeth and must be removed— often by a professional dental cleaning. If the plaque isn’t removed, it can harden over time and eventually turn into tartar (calcified plaque).
- This plaque and tartar buildup irritates the gums and usually causes bleeding.
- If gingivitis is left untreated, it can worsen and develop into periodontal disease— a severe inflammation of the gums, which causes the gums to pull away from the teeth.
Oof, gingivitis doesn’t sound fun, right? Thankfully, it’s treatable, especially when addressed early, but it makes sense why you wouldn’t want to catch or spread this disease.
Is Gingivitis Contagious?
So, to answer the million-dollar question— is gingivitis contagious? Not technically.
It is highly unlikely to contract gum disease by simply coming in contact with someone else’s saliva, especially if you have good oral health. However, it’s not impossible.
Gingivitis doesn’t spread in the way the common cold spreads. But, the bacteria that causes gum inflammation can spread through saliva-to-saliva contact. If you have poor oral hygiene and come in contact with the bacteria, this combination can jumpstart the progression of gum disease. The same goes for periodontal disease.
In short, maintain regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, and you likely won’t have anything to worry about.
Different Ways the Bacteria Can Spread
The bacteria that causes gingivitis can spread through saliva. If you suspect you have gum disease, avoid sharing items that come in contact with your saliva.
Sharing Drinks 🥤
If you have gum disease, the bacteria in your mouth can spread to a cup or straw that you’ve used. If someone else drinks from the same cup or straw, the same bacteria can spread to their mouth. Avoid sharing drinks until your gingivitis has been treated.
You’re unlikely to get gingivitis through kissing unless you have poor oral hygiene. Unfortunately, babies have an increased risk of developing gum disease when exposed to bacteria through kisses. This is because their immune systems are still developing.
It may be difficult to refrain from kissing your baby’s cheeks, but if you have gum disease, avoid kissing anyone until it has been fully treated.
Sharing Other Items 🪥
Beyond sharing drinks and kissing, the bacteria can spread to other items that are exposed to saliva. This includes:
Again, you likely won’t contract gingivitis from sharing saliva with someone who has it unless your oral health is already at risk.
How to Prevent & Treat Gingivitis
The good news about gum disease is that it is almost always treatable and preventable. To prevent gingivitis, you must maintain good oral hygiene, which involves:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day
- Flossing at least once a day
- Getting a professional dental cleaning roughly every 6 months
- Avoiding smoking or chewing tobacco
- Getting proper nutrients through your diet
- Taking extra care if you’re on medications that increase the risk of gingivitis
Opt for fluoride toothpaste to keep your teeth free from plaque buildup, and get in the habit of flossing. We know that flossing can challenging to make routine, but the benefits are undeniable. Floss in the morning, at night, or after meals— any time of day will make a difference!
Professional cleanings are important because a dental professional will use specialized tools to remove built-up plaque. They will also be able to examine your teeth and gums and look for any signs of gingivitis. If they catch any issues early, you’ll have a better chance of treating the disease with success and stopping it in its tracks before it worsens.
Treating Gum Disease
It’s vital to treat gum disease as soon as possible. Poor oral health can lead to other health conditions throughout your body, including:
- Heart disease
- Lung infections
- Birth complications
Visit a dentist right away if you suspect you have gingivitis. Any of the following symptoms could indicate gum disease:
- Persistent bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Inflamed or swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Loose teeth
Your dentist will diagnose and treat your gingivitis if you do, in fact, have it. Gum disease treatment looks a lot like prevention. You’ll need to get a professional dental cleaning, brush your teeth twice a day, and floss.
Your dentist may also prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash to help expedite the healing process. In more advanced cases where gingivitis has progressed to periodontal disease, you may need to see a specialized periodontist.
Keep Your Gums Healthy and Happy
Thankfully, gingivitis isn’t contagious in an alarming way. As long as you maintain good oral hygiene practices, you won’t have to worry about catching the disease from a loved one. But if you have gingivitis, avoid sharing saliva to prevent the bacteria from spreading.
At the end of the day, maintaining your oral health at home and regularly visiting the dentist will help keep gingivitis at bay. And if you live in the Twin Cities area, you have a trusted dental partner at Wayzata Dental.
Our preventative care practices will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums. Schedule a cleaning today!