It’s a question every man has asked themselves at least one time in their life: Is bacteria making it to my mouth on this saliva string?
Vibrio is one of the fastest bacteria around, if not the fastest. If you see live Vibrio under the microscope, they seem to zoom around like Superman navigating through Metropolis.
How Fast Is This Superhero Bacteria?
Estimates vary. This article pegs it at 75 micrometers per second…
Another website gives a figure of 200 micrometers per second, and cites the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology as its reference. We will use the lower estimate, as it is from a scientific, peer-reviewed journal.
For an organism that’s barely 2 micrometers in length, these are incredible speeds. It’s like an average adult human running at 75 to 200 meters per second (270 – 720 km per hr or 168 – 447 miles per hr).
How Quickly Can This Organism Climb Your Saliva String?
Let’s assume that the length of the salivary bridge is about 50 cm – a reasonable estimate, considering the average height of the adult male and the placement of the average urinal.
50 cm = 500000 micrometers. This is a LOOOOONG bridge!
The time taken for traversing 500000 micrometers when moving at 200 micrometers per second = 500000/200 = 2500 seconds.
This is close to 42 minutes.
If we go by the more realistic estimate of bacterial speed (75 microns per second), this increases to 111 minutes.
Will The Bacteria Have Time To Make It To Your Mouth?
If a bacterium is to travel from a urinal to your mouth on a bridge of salivary mucus, then all of the following criteria have to be satisfied:
- The urinal should be harbouring Vibrio.
- The top speed of this bacterium is assumed to be 200 micrometers per second.
- This bacterium must be moving upwards continuously at top speed.
- You should stand still for about 42 minutes.
- The salivary bridge should remain stable for this time period.
The answer to the question every man has pondered…
…does the bacteria have time to go inside your mouth?