You might have missed a study published this November, announcing to the world that 80 million bacteria are transferred during just 10 teeny, tiny second of kissing. While some people might have thought “Ick!”, germophobes the world over coiled in fear as they recalled all the times they had locked lips in the past and gagged at the thought of ever kissing again. Sadly, I find myself in the latter group. My husband is none to happy about it.
And it gets worse: The study also found that when an intimate kiss is exchanged frequently, the “salivary microbiota” within each partner become very similar with nine of those slobbery, saliva-filled kisses a day resulting in “significantly shared salivary microbiota.” Basically this means that you and your paramour have pretty much the same bacteria “communities” living in your mouths. Yuck. There’s no way around it: Mouths are a hotbed of germs. I mean, consider just how warm and moist it is in there! Subtract the romance and love factor, and, to be honest, kissing is straight-up gross.
Those 80 million bacteria is the just the beginning of it all. Are you ready to shriek in horror and take up nose-nuzzle Eskimo kissing instead? Of course you are! Here the eight scariest things about locking lips .
1. Worms and fungus. You’ll want to think twice about kissing anyone who gives or gets a big, slobbery wet one to Mittens. According to Dr. Philip M. Tierno, Jr., director of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at the NYU Langone Medical Center, pets — cats especially — carry “worms, fungi, and… [pathogenic] pastuerella in their mouth.” So if your partner was just smooching her pooch, then goes in to kiss you, you could be getting a whole mouthful of gross. Sure, worms and fungus aren’t going to kill you, but it’s still worms and fungus. No one wants that in their mouth
2. Mononucleosis. Mono is called nicknamed the “kissing disease” for a reason. The Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mono, is strictly transmitted through saliva, including sharing glasses, toothpaste, or sneezing. While it’s not exactly life threatening, it can result in an enlarged spleen, which can rupture if you engage in physical activity. Most people suffering from mono will feel greatly fatigued for weeks, if not months.
3. Herpes 1. While we most commonly associate herpes with the virus we can get from unprotected sex, herpes is also more than happy to make its home inside a mouth in the form of a cold sore. The HSV-1 strain of herpes is transferred through both kissing and mouth-to-genitals contact. And, sadly, herpes is something that once you get it, you’re stuck with it for life. Both topical medication and over the counter painkillers can aid in the relief of herpes, but, as of yet, there is no cure.
4. Strep throat. Streptococcus is a bacterium that lives in the mucus of both the nose and throat and is most easily spread through saliva. Not only is streptococcus to blame for painful strep throat, but it can also cause “severe illness such as pneumonia, necrotizing fasciitis, or streptococcal toxic shock syndrome,” according to the Center for Disease Control.
5. Gum disease. Well, you have to figure that if 80 million bacteria is being swapped in every 10 seconds of kissing then contracting the gum disease of someone else is most definitely, positively in the cards. Gum disease, or as it’s sometimes known by it’s fancier name, periodontal disease, is caused by bacterial growth in the mouth that results in the breakdown of the gums, halitosis, and eventual tooth decay and loss. Even if your oral hygiene is up to par, if steps aren’t taken to change the poor oral hygiene of your partner, you can find yourself in a vicious circle of clearing up your gum disease, just for it to start again.
6. Hepatitis B. While you may not need to worry about Hepatitis A and C when you’re swapping spit with someone, Hepatitis B is an entirely different story. HBV can make its way into your body through saliva (as well as blood, semen, and vaginal secretions), and if not properly treated can lead to a whole boatload of liver-related issues, including cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. Not fun.
7. HIV. Before you freak out, read this out loud: You cannot, under any circumstances, get HIV from saliva. OK, now that we have that out of the way, you can, however, in extremely rare circumstances, get HIV through “deep, open-mouth kissing if the person with HIV has sores or bleeding gums and blood is exchanged. Transmission through kissing alone is extremely rare.” Be extra careful if you’re gotten recent dental work, had a cold sore, or pierced your lip or tongue.