By: Winnie Yu
Yes, gum disease can be transmitted through kissing, says Dr. Mark A. Reynolds, chairman of the periodontics department at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Research has found that the bacteria that cause gum disease can be passed from one person to another through saliva. Mouth sores and other periodontal problems can increase the risk that the bacteria will spread.
Now, the good news: Most people have natural defenses in their immune systems that protect them from infection. However, if you do have gum issues, it is a good idea to avoid kissing infants and those with compromised immune systems (including people with chronic diseases) on the mouth, says Reynolds.
And don’t let wet kisses scare you: In fact, bacteria are more likely to lurk in a dry mouth.
Even if your partner has gum disease, you don’t have to stop smooching. Just take extra effort to practice good oral hygiene, which of course includes regular brushing and flossing, and see your dentist every six months.
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is Completely You’s mom blogger. She has two daughters (Samantha, 14, and Annie, 12) and is the author of seven books, including New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding and What to Eat for What Ails You. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Woman’s Day, AARP Bulletin, Prevention and WebMD.com.