Facts About Kissing & Whether Bacteria Spreads Very Easily

PSAs and health classes have made it clear that being hot and heavy can be dangerous. Swapping bodily fluids can increase your risk of contracting or transferring an STD/STI. But as it turns out, an STD isn’t the only thing you could catch from your most recent fling. It could actually send you to the dentist’s chair.

It’s fairly common knowledge that when we swap spit with a kiss, we’re swapping germs. If you kiss someone who’s sick, then you’ll likely get sick, too.

The pandemic has made us practically experts in understanding the germy nature of our bodily fluids. However, until a 2014 study, our knowledge was much lower about the germy nature of bodily fluids. How much stuff we’re swapping besides spit.

The Study finds that in a 10-second kiss, we can transfer up to 80 million bacteria. Couples who kiss more than nine times per day have similar oral microbiota, even though they are not actually kissing. But it’s not just STD-causing bacteria you’re trading with your boo. It’s also the bacteria that causes cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. (Double bleh.)

“Cavities are caused by a specific series of ‘bad bacteria’ that go unchecked,” Tina Saw, D.D.S. told Shape. The bacteria produce acid which is then used to break down the teeth.

If your partner transmits that bacteria to your mouth mid-kiss then that bacteria could latch onto your teeth and cause the same problem. Saw says even those with good oral hygiene are susceptible to infection by cavity-causing germs.

Inadequate oral hygiene can lead to poor oral hygiene. gingivitis inflammation of your gums. The bacteria that encourage plaque buildup can be transmitted via kissing, just like in cavities.

Gingivitis may also lead to periodontal diseases. It is irreversible, and it can be closely linked to our immune system.  “[Periodontal disease] is caused by a combination of the body’s immune system trying to fight off bacterial infection and the bacteria themselves,” ShapeRead more.

The disease is more than just destroying enamel. It also causes damage to gum and bone. And if that wasn’t enough to make you want to never kiss anyone again ever, periodontal disease has also been linked to diabetes, heart and lung disease, and Alzheimer’s. Uh… not hot.

Facts About Kissing & Whether Bacteria Spreads Very Easily

This dental dilemma is “surprisingly common,” ShapeWrites. “Especially when dating new partners.” Periodontist Yvette Carrilo, D.D.S., told Shape that she looks into patients’ dating histories when they come in with sudden gum tissue breakdown.

Luckily, it’ll take a little bit more than one make-out sesh to get a cavity. Your oral hygiene and immune system are key factors.

To develop the periodontal disease is one example. “you must have periodontal pockets,” Sienna Palmer, D.D.S., says. These pockets are “spaces between the gum tissue and the root of the tooth caused by an inflammatory response.”

You’re also at greater risk if you’re immunocompromised. Conversely, if you have a healthy immune system, you’re likely not to catch periodontitis from your partner.

Ultimately, everyone’s level of risk is different. “Everyone’s oral environment is unique,” Palmer explains. “You may have tight, healthy gum tissue, smoother tooth surfaces, less root exposure, shallow grooves, or more saliva. This would decrease your chance of developing oral diseases.”

Is There a Way to Avoid This Dental Dilemma

What are mouth condoms? What about sexy mouthwash? You might be able to trick your partner into using the same mouthwash as this woman for pre-make-out.

Gingivitis is a serious condition that can ruin your mood. And if everyone’s risk is different, how do we know we’re not vulnerable to oral disease? The prospect of living a life that isn’t based on kissing seems rather grim. What can we do to prevent this?

Nehi Ogbevoen, D.D.S., said, “It comes down to the ‘bad’ bacteria from the other person, and said bacteria must be able to multiply to actually infect our gums and teeth. As long as you brush and floss as recommended, you shouldn’t have to worry.”

Your basic oral hygiene routine should help you prevent cavities and other diseases. Brush your teeth twice daily, floss at least once a day, and use mouthwash.

If avoiding oral disease (and hefty dentist bills) isn’t motivation enough, then think of it this way: our bodies are naturally inclined to kiss those with healthy mouths.

“The reason you usually aren’t excited about kissing partners with the foul-smelling breath is that, biologically, you know bad-smelling breath is associated with the replication of ‘bad’ bacteria that could harm your oral health,” Ogbevoen explains.

Even though Listerine is not the most appealing thing to do, it can be quite enticing. ‘romance,’ could very well be the sexiest thing you do for your partner.

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