Can kissing someone give you gum disease?

An innocent kiss or an exchange of bacteria?

A kiss can exchange millions of bacteria – some of which could affect your oral health. When you share spit with someone, you can expose yourself to the transmissible bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay, the American Academy of Periodontology explains. 

This sounds a bit alarming, so let's take a closer look at kissing and oral health. 

The risks 

Your mouth contains a mixture of good and bad bacteria (you've probably heard it said that it's dirtier than a dog's mouth!). Cavities and gum disease can be caused by the bad ones, so if you lock lips with someone with poor dental hygiene, you could be introducing more of those nasties into your mouth. 

The bacteria largely responsible for tooth decay, streptococcus mutans, can be passed from one person to another through saliva, according to a study published in the Journal of Dental Research. For example, babies aren't born with the bacteria that causes tooth decay – it is usually passed on to them from their mother by sharing things like utensils and drink bottles.

Kissing is another way that these bacteria can be transferred from one person to another, so it could potentially cause problems for your teeth and gums.

If you or your partner have symptoms of gum disease, avoid kissing each other and see a dentist as soon as you can. If you or your partner have symptoms of gum disease, avoid kissing each other and see a dentist as soon as you can.

The solution

Fortunately, you don't need to swear off kissing for life. That's because simply exchanging bad bacteria won't automatically give you gum disease or make your teeth decay.

These problems are a culmination of poor oral hygiene habits, sometimes a weakened immune system and harmful bacteria. Being exposed to those bacteria via kissing can increase your risk of oral health problems, but you can easily combat that risk with dental care routines. Maintaining good oral hygiene is the key to keeping gum disease away.

Be sure to brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, and use floss and mouthwash regularly. It also helps if you cut back on sugary food and drinks. Encourage your partner to do the same and try to avoid kissing them if they are experiencing bleeding gums. If this is a persistent problem for either of you, seek advice from a dentist. 

Making regular trips to the dentist also plays a crucial tole in keeping your mouth healthy. Dental check ups can help catch small issues before they become big problems and is an opportunity to treat any oral health problems that may be present. 

If you haven't been to see a dentist in a while, book an appointment online and come in to see us.