“Kissing is nature’s cleansing process,” says Heidi Hausauer, a dentist and spokeswoman for the academy. “Saliva washes out the mouth and helps remove the cavity-causing food particles that accumulate after meals.”
But Kissing may also transmit a small number of disease-causing bacteria and viruses through the oral cavity. Bacteria and viruses in the saliva or blood of one person can be spread to another person by kissing. Some diseases are more easily spread through kissing than others.
Examples of illnesses caused by viruses that can be transmitted during kissing are as follows:
Upper respiratory tract infections like colds can easily spread through kiss. Many different viruses are responsible for causing common cold. Colds are believed to be spread by direct contact with the virus. You could catch the cold from airborne droplets or from direct contact with secretions (fluids and mucous) from the infected person’s nose and throat.
Glandular fever also known as the kissing disease is the common term for a viral infection called infectious mononucleosis. It is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. The virus spread through saliva and infection occurs when it comes in contact with saliva.
Herpes infection viruses that are considered part of the herpes family include Epstein-Barr, varicella-zoster (causes chickenpox) and herpes simplex (causes cold sores). Herpes simplex virus can be spread through direct contact with the virus when kissing. Herpes is most easily spread to others when the blisters are forming or have erupted. The virus can be ‘shed’ (spread to others) from the site of blisters even when they have healed. Chickenpox easily spreads from person to person by direct contact, droplets or airborne spread.
Hepatitis B may also transmit virus, although blood has higher levels of this virus than saliva. Infection can occur when infected blood and saliva come into direct contact with someone else’s bloodstream or mucous membranes. A person is more likely to be infected when kissing if they have open sores in or around the mouth.
Warts in the mouth can be spread through kissing, especially if there are areas of recent trauma.
Examples of bacteria that can be transmitted during kissing are as follows:
Meningococcal disease is a potentially life-threatening condition which includes meningitis, inflammation of the membranes (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord, and septicemia. These bacteria can be spread either through direct contact or via droplets. Studies show that, with respect to kissing, only deep kissing seems to be a risk factor.
The bacteria that cause tooth decay aren’t found in the mouths of newborn babies! A baby’s mouth must be colonized with infected saliva, which can be passed by a kiss on the lips.
Be aware, though, that periodontal disease can be transmitted through saliva. That’s why the American Academy of Periodontology recommends that if one family member has periodontal disease, all of the family members should be screened as well.
Don’t let the potential dangers stop you from kissing. Just be sure to practice good oral hygiene before you begin. Your loved one will thank you for it!
Passionate kisses are good for your oral health!
It’s not all doom and gloom. Research into passionate kissing has uncovered many valuable health benefits. Healthier mouth, saliva contains substances that fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. Deep kissing increases the flow of saliva, which helps to keep the mouth, teeth and gums healthy.
Around 80 per cent of the bacteria in saliva are common to everyone and 20 per cent are unique to you. The exchange of saliva in kissing stimulates your immune system to create antibodies to the ‘foreign’ bacteria, a process called cross-immunotherapy which helps you fight infection.
It combats tooth decay. Kissing stimulates the flow of saliva, which in turn neutralizes acids, re-mineralizes teeth and flushes away food particles. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in plaque on the surface of teeth mix with sugars and starches in food, creating acids which can damage tooth enamel.
Dry mouth is more prone to infections because of reduced saliva production, which becomes more common as we get older and can be caused by prescription drugs for conditions such as high blood pressure.
Kissing for Good Oral Health
When you kiss someone, the salivary glands under your tongue and in your cheeks stimulate your saliva, which Contains water, proteins, electrolytes, and mineral salts. Saliva is important for keeping your mouth healthy. For example, saliva cleanses away the food particles and neutralizes the acids in your mouth that can cause tooth erosion and other problems.
Tooth enamel, which is one of the hardest substances in our bodies, protects the inner layers of the teeth. Because the mineral salts in saliva help to rebuild the minerals in the tooth enamel, this also helps to prevent tooth erosion.
Some medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, and diuretics, may reduce the flow of saliva. If your loved one is taking any of these medications, give their saliva and health a boost by kissing them often!
Prevention Tips While Kissing
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of passing on, or catching, an infection while kissing. You should try to:
- Avoid kissing when you or the other person is sick.
- Avoid kissing anyone on the lips when you, or they, have an active cold sore, warts or ulcers around the lips or in the mouth.
- Maintain good oral hygiene.
- Cough and sneeze into a hanky if you have a cold.
- See your doctor about immunizations. Vaccines are available to prevent some infectious diseases, such as chickenpox, hepatitis B and group C meningococcal infection.