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If you’re like most dog owners in the U.S, you’re kissing your dog more often than your significant other, according to a recent survey. And it’s not just a quick kiss on the snout. Plenty (61%) of Americans reported that they kiss their dogs right on the mouth.

What else is shocking?

94% said they would rather stay at home with a dog than spend a night out with a human friend

52% said they’d rather share their bed with a dog than a human partner

We get it – we love dogs too. But what does your dentist think about these doggie kisses? Can it ruin your smile?

Can We Catch Cavities from Dogs?

People can catch cavities from other people. When we swap salvia, we’re also sharing oral bacteria, some of which can cause dental decay. Sharing toothbrushes, food and drink, eating utensils and kisses can result an increase in “streptococcus mutans,” – a bacteria and main cause of tooth decay and other oral diseases.

However, dog lovers are in luck! Most research (but not all) indicates that bacteria that causes oral decay doesn’t pass from humans to dogs and vice versa. Hooray! So chances are that kissing your dog will not cause dental problems for either of you. To be sure, you can make a point of brushing your teeth or at least rinsing with water after kissing or being kissed by a dog.

That said, there are diseases that you can catch from kissing your dog. The most common ones will make you very sick and include infections such as campylobacteriosis and giardia. The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) says the risk of dog-to-human infection is low. But people who are pregnant, or who don’t have robust immune systems such as the very young, the very old or those with certain health conditions or who have had organ transplants should be very cautious about kissing even the cutest dog – even on the top of the dog’s head or nose.

Why Dogs Kiss People

Dogs kiss people for all sorts of reasons. It can be because the person smells yummy or is sweaty, or because the person smells like some other dog or animal, which of course, calls for an investigation by your pup. And, our favorite reason, they may just be kissing you out of affection. Awe!

Keeping Your Smile – And Your Dog’s Smile – Healthy

By the age of 2, 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease. Neglecting preventive dental care for your pet can lead to pain, infections or tooth loss, and can eventually ruin your pet’s overall health. Regular brushing and checkups with a vet will keep your dog healthy and happy.

Human teeth and gums can also typically be kept healthy with minimal effort, such as brushing twice a day, replacing your toothbrush every three months and limited your intake of simple carbohydrates and acidic foods and beverages.

However, no matter how devoted you are to at-home care, regular exams and professional teeth cleanings are critical. Even people who are super-dedicated to good oral hygiene will inevitably miss a bit of dental plaque here and there, which starts hardening into impossible-to-remove-yourself tartar within 48 hours. Your hygienist can safely clean hardened dental plaque and any trapped dental debris.

If you’ve been skipping regular checkups and cleanings due to budget concerns or no dental insurance, consider getting a dental savings plan. These plans are an affordable alternative to dental insurance, providing plan members with discounts of 10-60% on most dental procedures.

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