Ah, February! The month of love! Hopefully Valentine’s Day will do its trick and put some smooches in your future. Before you kiss a frog, there are some things you should know. This means of affection not only affects your mood, but your oral health as well.
For better or for worse, get the kissing facts. First, the good news.
The Benefits of Kissing
Locking lips with a loved one can bring some pretty great health benefits. Kissing has been shown to lower you blood pressure, burn some extra calories (up to 16 calories per kiss), reduce the pain from cramps or a headache and boost the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy.
A study at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania also found that a good kiss can reduce stress. Researchers showed that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped in study participants who experienced a kiss. It does this by boosting your heart rate and helping to relax your blood vessels, which allows your blood to flow freely, benefiting your body.
Too much Valentine’s candy? Good news, kissing can also help prevent cavities from forming by increasing the flow of tooth-cleansing salvia. “Think of this boost in saliva like a car wash for your mouth hosing off those little piece of food that can raise havoc when they’re left behind,” says Dr. Mark Sivers of Charles River Dental in Boston. Kissing is also a good workout for your face—helping to tighten and tone your facial muscles, potentially helping you retain that youthful look longer.
Make you feel like kissing? Well, now the bad news.
The Downside of a Kiss
Kissing may be sweet, but if you’re kissing the wrong person it can also introduce your body to a host of negatives – 500 different kinds of negatives to be exact, in the form of germs and viruses, all from just one tiny kiss, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
This means that kissing, can not only give you a cold, the flu, mononucleosis or a nasty batch of cold sores, but like many sweet things, it can also give you cavities. What? Doesn’t kissing help prevent cavities? The answer is yes, but kissing can also transfer bacteria into your mouth that can cause cavities by eating away at your teeth. The same is true for gum disease where the transfer of bad bacteria from one mouth may potentially infect the healthy mouth.
“Gum disease can be contagious. If the right bacteria are transferred into your mouth, you are absolutely at risk for infection,” says Dr. Sivers. “Luckily, with the right treatment and care, something as serious as gum disease can be contained.”
Prevention is the Key to Kissing Success
Still worried about the potential drawbacks of kissing? Don’t be. Just be a little careful about who you kiss. Avoid locking lips with people who are sick and pay a visit to the dentist for a cleaning and care-free start to your Valentine’s Day.
You can also head off dental problems like cavities and gum problems by staying up to date on preventative care like cleanings, and examinations. Also, some dentists, like those at Charles River Dental, focus on teaching their patients how simple changes to your non-dental routine can influence your oral health. This way, you can target problems before they become an issue (or target bad bacteria before it leads to cavities!)
Follow these tips so you can feel good about puckering up this Valentine’s Day.
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