You may have heard that the mouth is the dirtiest place in the body; this is because saliva contains numerous microorganisms. Human bites are said to be more dangerous than a dog bites as it contains more bacteria says the CDC. Worldwide there are billions of kisses exchanged by people each year. The air kiss, casual peck on the cheek or the cultured kiss on the hand aren’t much of a threat but a kiss that exchanges saliva from one another is a different matter.
Viruses That Can Be Transmitted by Kissing
- Colds: many viruses cause the common cold. It can spread by direct contact with the virus, from airborne droplets, or from
direct contact with secretions from the infected person’s nose and
- Infectious Mononucleosis: also known as kissing disease is caused by Epstein Barr virus. The virus is spread through saliva and infection occurs through contact.
- Herpes Infection: includes varicella zoster (causes chicken pox) and herpes simplex (cold sores in mouth). Herpes is easily spread to others when others when cold sore blisters are forming or have erupted. The virus is shed to others from the site of blisters even when they have healed. So, can you get herpes from kissing: yes.
- Hepatitis-B: kissing may also transmit this virus even though it may be contained in higher levels in blood. Infection can
occur when infected blood and saliva come into direct contact with
someone else’s bloodstream or mucous membrane. A person may be easily
infected if they have sores in and around the mouth.
- Warts: these can spread through kissing especially if in case of recent trauma.
- Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: this is caused by Coxsackie virus and is spread through open sores in the mouth. This
infection is common in kids especially those in day care. It is spread
via the fecal oral route (maybe while changing diapers)
Bacteria That Can Be Transmitted by Kissing
Microscopic View of Bacteria
- Meningococcal Disease: this is a life threatening condition which includes meningitis, (inflammation of the membranes that
surround the brain and spinal cord) and septicemia. Studies show that
deep kissing seems to be one of the risk factors.
- Tooth Decay: numerous studies indicate that Streptococcus mutans, the main bacteria implicated with caries is
transmissible. Direct contact occurs most commonly via kissing. Indirect
contact occurs though shared contaminated objects such as eating
utensils, toothbrushes, cups and even toys.
There appears to be a strong link between mother and child and transmission usually occurs after the teeth have erupted in babies as S.
mutans has difficulty colonizing other oral surfaces. We love our
babies and it is natural to show them this love and affection, however, kissing babies on the mouth is harmful to their dental health.
The American academy of Periodontology says more than 75% of adults over 35 have some form of gum disease.
Since gum diseases are considered the equivalent of open wounds kissing
or having oral sex when you or your partner had bleeding gums is an invitation for the transmission of unwanted organisms.
There is no need to give up kissing; while disease causing bugs can be transferred during a kiss, most won’t cause the disease and the risk
of serious disease is small BUT it may happen. And it’s not all bad.
Research into passionate kissing has uncovered many valuable health benefits. For those who are calorie conscious a 60 second kiss burns 26 calories.
Be conscious to keep your mouth as healthy and germ free as possible
everyday. Make sure your partner takes preventive actions too so that
you can both enjoy those smooches. Also don’t forget your pet!! When
your beloved pet welcomes you home, slobbering your face with kisses, he
is also gifting you his germs. Don’t forget to keep his/her mouth
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