Is Periodontal Disease Contagious?

Posted In: Dental Health

Periodontitis in lay terminology is called “gum disease,” or “Pirreah.” Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Gum Disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on our teeth. Saliva carries the bacteria, which causes gum inflammation. Kissing, sharing food utensils, shared tooth brushes and drinking after someone are practices that transmit saliva.

If a person has periodontal disease and transmits saliva to another person, that person is at risk for developing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is transferrable from person to person!

Periodontitis, or gum disease, may spread from one person to another, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). The study found that living with a person who has periodontitis significantly increases the odds of the other people living with the infected person developing periodontal disease.

Signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Gums that have receded/pulled away from the teeth
  • Bad breath or bad taste
  • Permanent teeth that are loose
  • A change in the way partial dentures fit in the mouth

Scientific research is ongoing between periodontal disease and other systemic disease. A strong link between periodontitis and heart disease has been established. Bacteria from periodontitis gets in the blood (bacteremia) and travels to the heart and other organs, causing damage. Research also points to a relationship between periodontitis and diabetes, stroke, a feeling of fatigue and many other health problems.

Some factors that increase the risk of developing gum disease:

  • Poor oral hygiene, especially not dental flossing
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Genetics
  • Crooked teeth that are difficult to keep clean
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
  • Poor diet, especially deficiency in Vitamin C

Periodontitis may occur in otherwise healthy patients, often showing little or few signs. Schedule a dental examination if you suspect gum disease. The sooner you diagnosis and treat, the better the chances of a favorable resolution of the problem.

To schedule an appointment with Waco dentist, Steven T. Cutbirth DDS, call (254) 772-5420