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Twilight Film Spawns Unhealthy Love Bite Trend Among Teens

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Doctors and parents are concerned about an unhealthy biting trend among teens desiring to show their passion. Biting, as seen in the Twilight film and the Vampire Diaries seems to be the new inspiration for the trend. The human mouth is full of bacteria making the teen trend for delivering a love bite an unhealthy way to show affection.

The human mouth contains a wide array of bacteria. Biting to show affection may be an attempt at showing how attached you are to another, but it sets the stage for infection, is physically abusive and has psychosocial implications. Many teens are exchanging blood according to Pao Hernandez, a high school tenth grader in an interview with CBS news.

CBS correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton says "This is kind of the modern day version of the hickey. But we have to remember, any time there's a break in the skin, especially when you're talking about the human mouth, it's loaded with bacteria...You can set up for potentially some serious skin infections." According to the National Institutes of Health, "Human bites...have an infection rate of about ten percent".

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Professor William Wade, from the Dental Institute at King's College London says, "The healthy human mouth is home to a tremendous variety of microbes including viruses, fungi, protozoa and bacteria The bacteria are the most numerous - there are 100 million in every millilitre of saliva and more than 600 different species in the mouth", making it easier to undersand how disease can be spread through vampire-like bites among teens.

Dr. Wade discovered a new bacteria in the mouth in 2008. His finding shows there are mouth bacteria that may still remain undiscovered. The particular strain is the Prevotella species that is linked to mouth and gum disease as well as infection in other parts of the body. The bacteria also lives inside oral cancer cells. But it isn't just bacteria and infection that has doctors and parents concerned about the biting trend among teenagers.

Dr. Ashton says "Not only obviously are there physical consequences but psychosocial," said Ashton who describes biting as "a way of marking a person, and it is a form of emotional and physical abuse." One of the psychosocial issues involves concern about "possession", writes parenting blogger Vanessa Van Petten. Biting is also considered a status symbol that may be influenced by peer pressure.

Love bites can spread bacteria. The teen trend for biting each other is physically painful, creates a soft tissue injury, and is generally a bad idea. If you have succumbed to a love bite be aware of signs of infection that include pain, drainage from the wound, swelling and redness and seek medical care. The biting trend among teens that appears to be an obsession should be discouraged to avoid the consequences of infection.

BBC News
CBS video
Radical Parenting