A 10 second kiss could transmit up to 80 million bacteria, harmful or beneficial?

A new study published in the Microbiome journal indicates that nearly 80 million bacteria are exchanged during an intimate 10 seconds kiss.


On its own, our mouth contains over 100 billion bacteria spread in 700 varieties. When you know this information, you can easily conceive that a swap of microorganisms from one mouth to another is possible during a kiss. However, what is more difficult to imagine is the number of the exchanged bacteria.

1 The transmission of 80 million bacteria during one kiss (French kissing in the first place)

A new study carried by a team from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) has managed to estimate that amount; it would be about 80 million. To be more specific, these 80 million bacteria would be transferred during a 10 second “French kiss”. “Intimate kisses with tongue contact and saliva exchange, appear to be a seductive behavior to humans and it is common in more than 90% of known cultures” says Remco Kort, a microbiologist at NWO.


This is really very interesting, the current explanations of the functioning of the intimate kissing for humans includes an important role for various microflora that exist in the oral cavity but we still do not know the exact effect of intimate kissing on oral microbiota which was never been studied.

The transmission of 80 million bacteria during one kiss

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2 Kissing for science

To reduce the amount of the exchanged bacteria scientists asked 21 couples to tell them about the frequency of their intimate kissing and the last time they had these kisses. Subsequently, the volunteers were asked to kiss several times after one of them consumed a yogurt containing probiotics, bacteria that do not naturally exist in the mouth.

Saliva samples were taken before and after each kiss. Comparing the samples with the ones that have already been taken, researchers have shown the average proportion of probiotic and other bacteria that have been exchanged. The results, published in the Microbiome journal, indicate that this amount is about 80 million.


However, even if this proportion may seem huge, one kiss would not really change the specific bacteria of your mouth.

Kissing for science

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3 Increase your immune system defenses

However, researchers observed that at a high frequency kissing in a couple (up to 9 per day), the two partners will have similar bacterial communities. And exchanging kisses would not come without benefits according to researchers.

In fact, it would increase the body’s immunization process. “If you increase the diversity of good bacteria, you can increase your resistance to infections” said Dr. Remco Kort.

Increase your immune system defenses

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4 The Kiss-O-Meter

The findings of the study have inspired the invention of a “Kiss-O-Meter” sponsored by Micropia, the Amsterdam museum of microbes. This funny device allows visitors to directly measure the number of bacteria exchanged during a kiss.

The Kiss-O-Meter

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