Planning to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas? Remember to brush.
Microbiologist Remco Kort and his team at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research found out that a ten-second French kiss can transfer as much as 80 million bacteria. Swabs and spit samples collected from 21 couples in the study reported a drastic increase in the number of common bacteria, namely Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
To see if kissing transfers microbes from one person to another, the couples then smooched after drinking probiotic yogurt. The researchers focused on Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, which together usually make up only about 0.15 percent of the bacteria in human saliva and 0.01 percent of the bacteria on the tongue.
But after the yogurt kiss, the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria in the person on the receiving end rose substantially — up to 0.54 percent in saliva and 0.49 percent on the tongue. This led them to the estimate that each smooch carries 80 million bacteria.
This doesn’t come as a surprise as diseases normally transmit via mouth-to-mouth contact. The actual number is still up for debate, but experts are confident that the bacteria in your mouth easily outnumber the Earth’s population.
Certain types of bacteria are harmless, while some like Streptococcus can cause a lot of trouble. Kissing can hardly be romantic when you’ve got a massive Strep invasion looming. The least you can do is to brush your teeth before and after a smooch. Besides, nothing gives a good impression better than fresh breath.
It also pays to see your dentist twice a year for regular checkups. Experienced dentists in Greenville, SC such as Dr. Trey Kenna offer comprehensive exams and prophylaxis that remove bacteria in areas of the mouth your brush can’t reach (at least without risking gum damage). Other helpful procedures include scaling and fluoride treatment.
While the study focused on intimate kissing, affectionate kissing (i.e. mothers to kids) isn’t an exception. In 2010, a dentist diagnosed a two-year-old with tooth decay, which he believed came from the mother. It is, therefore, not surprising for any pediatric dentist in Greenville, SC to urge proper hygiene before kissing anyone.
(Source: “What’s In His Kiss? 80 Million Bacteria,” NPR, November 17, 2014)