Kissing your significant other for just a few seconds can result in the exchange of millions of germs, a new study finds. According to Dutch researchers, a ten-second kiss can result in roughly 80 million germs shifting from one person to the other.
Surprisingly, this is a very new area of scientific research. “To our knowledge, the exact effects of intimate kissing on the oral microbiota [microscopic living organisms] have never been studied,” notes Remco Kort, a microbiology expert and one of the study’s lead authors. “We wanted to find out the extent to which partners share their oral microbiota, and it turns out, the more a couple kiss, the more similar they are.”
The findings are based on several experiments. In one of those tests 21 couples were given a probiotic beverage containing a specific type of bacteria. The couples were then asked to kiss for ten seconds. Swab samples conducted shortly afterwards showed that 80 million germs had passed between the two people.
Another test showed that bacteria located on the tongue was more similar among couples when compared with people who didn’t know each other.
The study, which was recently published in the journal Microbiome, reinforces the idea that it might be worth holding off on smooching if one partner comes down with a communicable illness, like the flu.