Do You Know What You Are Kissing?

Milheim, Kristy, Lucia Harvath, Melinda Kashat, Davina Yatoma, and Diane Hoelscher

Purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine the awareness level of undergraduate college students regarding the transference of dental related bacteria causing dental caries and periodontitis, from mouth to mouth.

 

It is well known in the dental community that dental caries is a transmissible infectious disease.  It is also known that the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can be transferred from person to person through saliva transfer.  However the general public may not acknowledge the concept that dental caries is directly exchangeable. In consequence, numerous individuals—adults in particular—affect their spouse or child with dental caries and periodontitis unknowingly. To determine the awareness level of undergraduate students regarding the transference of dental-related bacteria, an online survey consisting of 10 questions was distributed to undergraduates in an urban university setting.  157 students completed the survey. In general students understand that cavities and periodontal disease are caused by bacteria. In contrast students overall do not understand that disease-causing oral bacteria can be transferred from person to person or from a parent to a child. Additionally while students understand that regular oral hygiene care is important, they are less aware of the benefits of xylitol.  Based on the results of this survey, the majority of college students are unaware of the contagious effects of dental caries and periodontitis.