Not Just an Innocent Kiss

Chizick, Chelsea, Amber Nogiec, Erica Cooksey, and Jennifer Dest

PURPOSE

The purpose of this table clinic is to compare the transmission of periodontal organisms between spouses with periodontal health and those spouses with periodontal disease.

SUMMARY

During periodontal disease, there are elevated levels of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans (now Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans) and Porphyromonas gingivalis on the tongue and in the saliva which suggests kissing is a route of transmission of these organisms between spouses. Horizontal transmission of A.a and P.g between spouseā€Ÿs ranges between 14-60% for A.a, and 30-75% for P.g. The von Troil-Linden et al study concluded that in a group of ten couples consisting of a periodontitis patient and their spouse, four out of the ten couples were infected of A.a, and six out of the ten couples were infected with P.g, as compared to the group of ten periodontally healthy patients and their spouses, of which zero out of the ten couples were positive for the A.a organism, and only one out of the ten couples were infected with P.g. In addition, spouses of patients with periodontitis had significantly deeper periodontal pockets than the spouses of patients without periodontitis suggesting that not only was there possible transmission of A.a and P.g between the spouses, but that the transmission likely resulted in periodontitis in the recipient spouse. Asikainen et al. concluded that in a study of eleven married spouses consisting of a periodontitis patient and their spouse, seven out of the eleven couples were infected with A.a and four of these couples exhibited identical genotypes of A.a. Likewise, in a group of ten couples, seven out of the ten were infected with P.g, and two demonstrated identical genotypes as their partner, indicating likely transmission between the spouses.

CONCLUSION

There is some evidence to show that transmission of A.a and P.g does occur between spouses through kissing. Horizontal transmission of these organisms may be controlled by routine periodontal treatment involving the elimination of these pathogens and by a high standard of oral hygiene. Dental professionals must educate their patients on the risk of transmitting these organisms as a way to promote thorough oral care in the prevention of periodontal disease.