We also hope the topic we’re about to discuss won’t spoil the romantic mood, but we need to talk about what kissing does to oral bacteria.
Our mouths are home to many species of microscopic organisms. Most of them are harmless, and some are even beneficial, but some cause tooth decay and gum disease. The worst offenders are streptococcus mutans and porphyromonas gingivalis.
Streptococcus mutans eats the leftover sugars and starches that stick to our teeth after we eat, and then it excretes enamel-eroding acid. Porphyromonas gingivalis is strongly linked to advanced gum disease, or periodontitis.
As bacteria reproduce very quickly, a good oral hygiene routine is essential for keeping the harmful bacteria populations under control. In a healthy, clean mouth, there might be anywhere from a thousand to a hundred thousand bacteria on each tooth surface, but a mouth that doesn’t get cleaned often can have as many as a hundred million to a billion bacteria per tooth. So don’t skip your twice-daily brushing and daily flossing!
On average, an individual will have between 34 and 72 different types of oral bacteria. Once we get a strain of bacteria in our mouths, it probably isn’t going away. The trouble is that each person has different bacteria, so kissing or even sharing drinks with someone could introduce new strains of bacteria to our mouths.
This is more dangerous for children than adults. Young children don’t have as many types of oral bacteria as adults yet, and their immune systems aren’t used to dealing with them. Too many kisses from Mom and Dad can leave them more vulnerable to developing cavities.
The best way to avoid sharing your oral bacteria with your child is to keep those kisses to the cheek, don’t share your spoon or fork with them, and make sure they always have their own drink instead of giving them sips from yours.
As long as you’re taking good care of your oral health and hygiene, you don’t need to worry as much about spreading dangerous, cavity-causing germs with your kisses, but even then, avoid doing things that could spread oral bacteria to small children. If you follow these tips and keep up with your regular dental appointments, you’ll be free to enjoy the feelings of Valentine’s Day!