Find out how many bacteria you share in a 10-second French kiss and its impact on your health

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According to the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research(TNO), in an intimate 10-second French kiss, up to 80 million bacteria can be transferred. However, for couples to share their microbiota, they must kiss at least nine times a day.

Microbiota refers to the microorganisms that naturally inhabit various parts of the human body and are essential for functions such as digestion, nutrient synthesis and disease prevention.

The mouth is an ideal environment for these microorganisms and harbors about 700 different types of bacteria.

In the study, 21 couples aged between 17 and 45 years, including heterosexual and homosexual couples, participated.

The study, entitled “Defining the oral microbiota through intimate kissing,” was conducted at the Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam. The article is entitled “Defining the oral microbiota through intimate kissing”.

The researchers took samples from the participants before and after consuming a yogurt with specific bacteria (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria), which are rarely found in the mouth.

Prior to the experiment, participants were asked to answer a questionnaire that included questions about their age, frequency of kissing, time elapsed since the last kiss, among others.

“Intimate kissing involves full tongue contact with saliva exchange and appears to be a uniquely human courtship behavior that is common in more than 90% of known cultures.”

Autor principal Remco Kort comentó

Then, samples were taken from the dorsal part of the tongue and from the saliva of the participants. One of the individuals from each pair consumed a yogurt with specific bacteria tagged and then kissed for 10 seconds. After this, the researchers took new samples from the dorsal part of the tongue and saliva of the participants.

Researchers discovered that about 80 million bacteria can be transferred in an intimate kiss, thanks to the use of bacteria marked on the yogurt consumed by one of the individuals of each couple.

In addition, it was observed that the transfer of bacteria during kissing is also influenced by the environment, genetic factors and common lifestyles of the partners.

Dutch biologists collaborated with the world’s first museum dedicated to microbes, Micropia in Amsterdam. The museum has a device called a “Kiss-o-meter” capable of assessing the amount of bacteria transferred in a kiss on a scale from a “cautious” one that transfers only 1,000 bacteria to a more “passionate” one that can transfer millions of bacteria.

At the museum, couples were provided with an instant analysis of the bacteria they exchanged during the kiss.

What is the Kiss-o-meter’ device?

The Kiss-o-meter device is a unique interactive exhibit housed in the Micropia Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This device measures the level of microbial activity in the mouths of two people kissing, allowing visitors to see in real time the amount of microbes being transmitted during a kiss.
The device works by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide and the level of moisture in the breath of the two people kissing. As microbes are transmitted from one person to another during kissing, microbial activity in the mouth increases, which is reflected in the levels of carbon dioxide and moisture detected by the device.

The Kiss-o-meter is a fun and interactive way to teach visitors about microbes and disease transmission. It also shows that kissing is a common way of transmitting microbes, but that not all microbes are harmful and some can be beneficial to our health.

As Nietzsche said… “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.

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