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Netherlands Study Reveals That French Kissing Swaps Millions of Oral Bacteria

  • January 29, 2015

A November 2014 study published in a scientific journal from the Netherlands found that French kissing results in the transfer of up to 80 million bacteria over the course of just ten seconds. While it’s not a surprise that our mouths harbor an immense amount of oral bacteria, this is the first study of its kind to actually explore the amount and type of bacteria shared between individuals sharing an intimate kiss.

The Microcosm of Your Mouth

Though you can’t feel them, see them, or taste them, your mouth holds between 34 and 72 different varieties of oral bacteria. The majority of oral bacteria pose no harm whatsoever, and many types actually protect our teeth and gums. Others, however, actively cause tooth decay and periodontal disease, both of which can lead to the loss of teeth, gum tissue, and bone tissue within the jaw.

In a recently published study entitled “Shaping the Oral Microbiota through Intimate Kissing,” researchers discovered that the amount of bacteria transferred in a single 10-second French kiss was much higher than previously thought. In order to quantify the number of bacteria swapped between partners, the researchers first had one member of each of their participating couples drink a probiotic drink. This drink contained bacteria not commonly found in the human mouth, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. The saliva of the receiver was tested after an intimate, 10-second kiss; it was found to contain three times the amount of those specific types of bacteria. They utilized this data to conclude that 80 million bacteria were actually transferred during the passionate transaction.

The study, conducted by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, also found that couples who kissed at least nine times per day actually shared similar oral bacterial environments. Essentially, the more frequently couples kissed, the more alike their salivary microbiota proved to be.

What Does All of This Mean for You?

Though the study certainly doesn’t provide any evidence that French kissing is harmful in healthy individuals, it does offer food for thought when considering who we kiss and when. Knowing that such an inordinate amount of bacteria is transferred so easily, we can make wiser decisions when orally engaging with others, particularly when they are suffering from any type of illness. As your trusted source for information for all things related to oral health, Dr. David DiGiallorenzoand his team at LANAP & Implant Center of Pennsylvaniaare always here to answer your questions and offer helpful counsel when you need it. Contact us today to learn more about how oral bacteria affect your overall health, or schedule your next visit to our Collegeville, PA or Williamsport, PA dental practice. We also happily serve patients from throughout the surrounding areas, including Pottstown, Bloomberg, Sunbury, Lock Haven, and beyond.