What You Need to Know: Pucker up and say “ugh:” Just one kiss from your partner can send a whole lot of bacteria to your mouth, finds a new study from the Netherlands.
The Evidence: Researchers in the Netherlands had one person guzzle a probiotic drink—rich in bacterial bugs—then snog their significant other for 10 seconds. They swabbed the kissee’s tongue and saliva and analyzed the germy makeup.
- One smooch could transfer 80 million bacteria, the scientists estimate.
- The study also found that kissing couples who slip each other the tongue at least nine times a day have significantly higher levels of shared bacteria in their spit than those who smooch less frequently.
- It sounds gross, sure, but it’s usually not a reason to worry. That’s because the predominant kind of bacteria in your mouth, streptococci, tend to be completely harmless, says study author Remco Kort, Ph.D.
- What’s more, most of the bugs that hitch a ride on your tongue are typically transient visitors—they don’t stick around long enough to set up camp in your mouth.
But the ones that do linger can actually benefit you. The layer of bacteria in your mouth can protect you from disease-causing microorganisms, Kort says. And the greater diversity of species, the better the resistance it offers.
My Take: Kiss. That’s the ticket. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.
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