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Dentist goes viral on TikTok for claiming cavities are contagious. Is there any truth to it?

A Houston dentist recently went viral on TikTok for claiming a diet high in sugar may not be the only reason for rotten teeth. Picture: REUTERS/Alexander Reshetnikov

A Houston dentist recently went viral on TikTok for claiming a diet high in sugar may not be the only reason for rotten teeth. Picture: REUTERS/Alexander Reshetnikov

Published Apr 19, 2022

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Oral hygiene is a priority most of us take very seriously. And yet, there are times that no matter how well you take care of your teeth, a cavity sneaks up on you.

A Houston dentist recently went viral on TikTok for claiming a diet high in sugar may not be the only reason for rotten teeth.

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Dr Tasneem Mahmood says you can get cavities from kissing.

The video gained more than a million views and caused a stir.

@tasneemmahmoodd

& that’s on cavities being contagious 🦠

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“Thinking about the kiss I gave my husband even though he has cavities,” she wrote under the post and captioned it “And that’s on cavities being contagious.”

Are there truth to Dr Mahmood’s claims?

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The answer is yes and it’s complicated.

Experts have been aware of the transmissibility of tooth decay since at least the 1970s, Dr John Featherstone, professor emeritus and former dean of the School of Dentistry at the University of California, San Francisco told The Guardian.

Dr Featherstone said decay was linked to the presence of bacteria in our mouths, and that bacteria could be exchanged between people through the saliva by kissing, for instance.

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“Most of us have these decay-producing bacteria in our mouths,” he added. “I do. And I don’t have tooth decay – I haven’t had it for decades.”

But there is a way to avoid it: brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, use fluoride toothpaste, and always rinse your mouth with clean water after brushing.

When asked about her viral video, Dr Mahmood told Insider she wasn’t advocating against kissing people with cavities, and added: “Having cavities is not a moral failing.”

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