Would you walk up to a stranger and give ‘em a big smooch? That’s what 20 people did in the three-minute YouTube video called First Kiss that went viral today. And after the people get over the initial awkwardness, they really, um, get into it.
But besides squirming while watching, we had to ask: How gross is it for a stranger to stick their tongue in your mouth?
First the dirty deets: Your mouth could have more than 1,000 different kids of bacteria and germs that can make you sick, including viruses that cause the common cold, GI viruses like norovirus, bacterial infections like strep throat, and oral herpes. And you don’t need to smooch to get the brunt of those germs.
"Whether you’re kissing someone or not, you’re exposed to their germs from sneezes, coughs, or touching common surfaces like the hand rail in the subway," says Amesh Adalja, M.D., an infectious disease, critical care, and emergency medicine physician with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. You then fall ill when those organisms enter your mouth and infect your respiratory or GI system.
Kissing does, however, expose you to a higher amount of germs, especially open-mouth kisses. And smooching a stranger is a bit different than locking lips with your boyfriend. [Tweet this fact!] You already swap tons of germs with him from daily habits like eating out of the ice cream container, sharing a drink, and making out. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re immune to him, just that you two share some germs. You’d rather use his toothbrush than a stranger’s, right?
Bottom line: If you find yourself wanting to make out with that cute guy at the bar, it’s probably not that big of a deal, as long as he’s not obviously sick—because that would be gross.