Yes, definitely! A three second kiss has been shown to transmit about 40 million saliva bacteria and parasites. It is important to get your spouse or anyone you kiss treated to avoid reinfecting yourself after treatment. Periodontal bacteria, caries bacteria, and parasites can also be transmitted to your children starting when they are young.
You can also get periodontal disease bacteria and parasites from your dog or cat, since they have a high rate of periodontal infection. Those lovable face licks can transmit periodontal disease. Ideally, start brushing your pet’s teeth when they are very young to get them used to it.
In addition, periodontal bacteria and parasites can be picked up from food and water, especially in the Caribbean. Drink only bottled water and avoid uncooked food in most developing countries. (See pages 23-24 for a questionnaire regarding the possible contamination sources for bacteria and parasites causing periodontal disease.)
Is Periodontal Disease Hereditary?
No. It is a bacterial and protozoan infection transmitted from others as discussed above. However, an increased susceptibility to this infection can be inherited. According to one recent study, up to 50% of the population may have some genetic susceptibility to periodontal disease. A commercially available test has recently been developed to test for eight genetic markers, genetic variations involved in bone resorption and the inflammatory response. (See next page.) We advise this test when patients tell us they have several family members with periodontal problems. In addition to heredity, other major risk factors are smoking and diabetes. However, if you control the bacteria and protozoans causing the infection, no periodontal disease will occur even if you have any of these risk factors.
For More information, read “Diagnosing and Treating Oral Diseases and Orofacial Pain”.