Updated: Oct 31
You haven't been to the dentist in awhile and your gums are bleeding when you brush but you just got a new boyfriend. Is it safe or is it dangerous to be kissing?
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What happens when you are kissing with bleeding gums?
We do not share food or utensils with strangers and we learned that since we were kids. If you went to a restaurant and they gave you a dirty fork, you would not use it because who knows what kind of germs could be on there. It is probably teeming with bacteria from who knows where.
Does that same concept apply to an even more intimate activity such as kissing?
We've always referred to sharing the same food, drinking from the same bottle, and even sharing a utensil as an indirect kiss. The actual act of kissing, which is an exchange of saliva is a direct kiss. Don't even get started on french kissing, which is an even more direct kiss than anything we've seen before! Surely, there would be a massive transfer of germs and bacteria through that act alone.
On top of that, what about when your gums have been bleeding lately. Is there even more bacteria added into the saliva since you may potentially have gum disease? So now you are not only exchanging the good bacteria in your saliva but also the bad bacteria in your bleeding gums. That doesn't seem very safe.
Luckily there was a study done on measuring the bacterial activity that may be shared through an intimate kiss. It turns out that an intimate kiss lasting around 10 seconds will transfer roughly 80 million bacteria. That's a whole lot of bacteria!
What else the study found was:
Romantic partners on average had a more similar composition of bacteria compared to unrelated individuals.
An intimate kiss however did not lead to a significant increase in the average of similarity between the bacterial composition.
The similarity in the oral microbiome was not correlated with kissing behavior but rather suggests that it results from a shared lifestyle and environment overall.
Based on the study it seems like kissing will transfer the bacteria but doing it more often will not make a couple identical in bacterial composition. Study suggests that the similarity between couples are more so due to just living together overall and it goes well beyond just kissing behavior and frequency. The bacteria are being transferred in so many more ways than just french kissing.
What is gum disease?
So kissing with bleeding gums will transfer 80 million bacteria over 10 seconds but that is probably the least of your worries. If your gums are red, swollen, and bleed easily, it most likely means that you have gum disease.
You should probably see a dentist, perhaps one of our dentist in long island city so that you can get a definitive diagnosis on your periodontal disease. Gum disease basically means that your gums are not healthy and it comes in two forms.
This is the first stage of periodontal disease. Gingivitis means gum inflammation so what you may notice are your gums bleeding easily, look red, swollen, and possibly bad breath as well. The good news is that no permanent gum damage has been done and it is still reversible if you get the right treatment.
This is the advanced stage of periodontal disease. Periodontitis means inflammation of the periodontium, which consists of everything that surrounds the tooth. This includes the alveolar bone and periodontal ligaments. It also includes gum inflammation as well but typically the damage that has been done is now irreversible.
Most common consequence of periodontitis is bone loss around the tooth. After this occurs, your teeth may start feeling loose because once you lose bone, it doesn't grow back.
If you have periodontitis, you need to have it treated as soon as possible.
According to the CDC, approximately 47.2% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Then it increases to 70.1% if you are age 65 or older.
Is gum disease contagious?
The short answer is yes, gum disease is contagious. In fact, you'll be giving not only your romantic partner the bacteria in gum disease from kissing but also any roommates that you may be living with as well!
It doesn't necessarily have to be an intimate relationship as the study above suggests. The simple act of living in a shared space makes you more likely to transmit the gum disease bacteria to them through various other means.
What this means is that if you notice bleeding gums when you brush, you may want to get it treated so that you do not spread it to whomever you are living with. Even if you don't do it for yourself, you should do it for them.
How to treat gum disease
The good news is that there are treatments available for gum disease. The bad news is that it is an incurable disease and it needs to be managed for the rest of your life, kind of like diabetes or high blood pressure. This is because the bacteria become inactive after treatment but can reactivate if you slip up on your oral hygiene or dental cleaning visits!
How to treat gingivitis:
You can usually keep this disease at bay simply by going to your biannual teeth cleaning visits.
Easily treated by just mechanically removing the plaque and tartar build up around your teeth at the dental cleaning.
Your gums get inflamed because there is residual plaque and tartar sitting next to your gums and your body doesn't like that.
How to treat periodontitis:
This requires more than just a regular teeth cleaning. You actually need a deep teeth cleaning, which involves scaling and root planing your teeth.
This procedure typically do require you to be numb for it, meaning you get the numbing gel along with the dental numbing shot.
For your own comfort, dental offices will do half the mouth one visit and bring you back a second time a week later for the other half.
Most patients with periodontitis will need to return for periodontal maintenance visits which is another term for teeth cleaning every 3-4 months instead of the usual 6 since they are at higher risk.
Importance of your dental check ups
Gum disease is contagious and you shouldn't be kissing with bleeding gums either. What you should do is see a dentist and get it treated as soon as possible so you don't end up with irreversible damage to your bone causing you to have loose teeth. After getting it treated, you need to stay on top of your oral hygiene regime by brushing for two minutes and flossing everyday!