A Houston dentist has shocked TikTok users by revealing that cavities can be contagious — and they can be spread through kissing.
Dr. Tasneem Mahmood shared the surprising information in a viral TikTok video last month, in which she filmed herself and added the text: ‘Thinking about the kiss that I gave my husband even though he has cavities.’
‘And that’s on cavities being contagious,’ she added in the caption — a medical fact that was news to many viewers.
A Houston dentist has shocked TikTok users by revealing that cavities can be contagious – and they can be spread through kissing
‘WHY do I have t learn this stuff on TikTok,’ wrote one shocked commenter.
‘Really!! Now I have this to worry about too,’ wrote another.
‘Excuse me? I’m never kissing anyone again,’ said a third.
But Dr. Mahmood replied: ‘I’m not trying to get in the way of your smooches! Just make sure you floss, brush, and rinse [with] mouthwash after.’
Several studies back up the claim that cavities can, in fact, be spread from one person to another, including one 1993 study that was done with married couples.
Cavities are primarily caused by bacteria, which clings to teeth and creates acid — which destroys those teeth. That’s why good oral hygiene is the best way to ward off cavities by killing the bacteria.
Dr. Tasneem Mahmood shared the surprising information in a viral TikTok video last month
There are several types of bacteria that lead to cavities, with Streptococcus mutans being one of the most common.
With close contact, that bacteria can transfer from one person’s mouth to another’s.
‘The simple act of kissing can transfer up to 80 million bacteria between partners,’ Nehi Ogbevoen, D.D.S., a board-certified orthodontist based in Orange County, California, told Shape in 2021.
‘Kissing someone with poor dental hygiene and more “bad” bacteria can put their partners at more risk for gum disease and cavities, especially if the partner also has poor dental hygiene.’
In fact, Dr. Ogbevoen notes, that’s why kissing someone with foul breath is a turnouff: ‘Biologically, you know bad-smelling breath is associated with the replication of “bad” bacteria that could harm your oral health.’
Cavities are caused by bacteria, which can be transferred between people. Good oral hygiene is the best prevention
Dr. Margaret Mitchell, a cosmetic dentist in Chicago, told New York Times in 2011 that she has seen it in her own practice.
‘In one instance, a patient in her 40s who had never had a cavity suddenly developed two cavities and was starting to get some gum disease,’ she said.
The woman had started dating a man who had not visited a dentist in 18 years and had gum disease.
The contagiousness means that cavity-causing bacteria can be spread through more than just kissing — and studies have shown that most children who get cavities do so from their caregivers, like when a parent tastes a child’s food with the same utensil with which they feed them.
The bacteria can also be spread through sharing toothbrushes and straws.
While Dr. Mahmood shared two videos about her husband’s cavities, she insists that she isn’t warning people not to kiss partners who have them
But while Dr. Mahmood shared two videos about her husband’s cavities, she insists that she isn’t warning people not to kiss partners who have them.
‘Do I think that one should not kiss someone who has a cavity? No, not at all. Having cavities is not a moral failing or should it be used to judge how good a person or partner is,’ she told Insider.
‘Plus, let’s not forget that cavities are often the result of not brushing and flossing daily, though research suggests some people may be genetically predisposed to getting them, regardless of immaculate dental hygiene,’ she said.
She also said she wasn’t shaming her husband for having the cavities, but thought it was a good opportunity to educate people on TikTok.