Kissing is a very intimate act. Kissing can convey romantic feelings, help in special bonding and is sexually arousing. Kissing can burn around 1-2 calories per minute, while rigorous kissing can burn even more calories.
Kissing can result in the release of many feel-good chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. These hormones can not only make you happy but can strengthen your relationship. When you kiss, saliva production increases in the month, which can help in the prevention of plaque formation and cavities.
One research study has shown that during a 10-second kiss, as many as 80 million bacteria can be transferred between the couple. Kissing may help long-term couples to diversify their oral bacteria and thereby boost their resistance to other microorganisms. The study also reported that partners who kissed each other at least nine times in a day shared almost similar communities of oral bacteria.
Kissing and the exchange of saliva can also lead to the transfer of some illnesses:
1. Cold and Flu: Many viruses are known to cause the common cold. Flu (Influenza) is caused by influenza and other related viruses. These organisms spread through airborne droplets or direct contact with the secretions from the infected person. Kissing can result in contact with the person’s saliva or mucus and spread the infection.
2. Infectious Mononucleosis: Infectious mononucleosis is a condition caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and presenting with a group of symptoms. The virus is transmitted through saliva, so you can get it through kissing (which is why it is often called as the kissing disease), but it can also spread through a cough, sneeze or objects contaminated with secretions of an infected person.
3. Cold sores: Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) infection can spread through open cold sores on the lips and near the mouth, especially when the sore is open and leaking fluid.
4. Streptococcal throat infection: Streptococci is a highly contagious bacterium which causes a sore throat can spread through airborne droplets. The bacteria can also spread by kissing.
5. Meningitis: Meningitis is the inflammation of the linings that cover the brain and the spinal cord. Transmission is through airborne droplets and contact with mucus, saliva or faeces of an infected person.
6. Hand, foot, and mouth disease: This is an infectious condition seen in kids (commonly in daycare and preschool settings) caused by Coxsackie virus. It usually spreads through direct contact with unwashed hands or surfaces contaminated with faeces. It can also spread through saliva and contact with open sores in the mouth.
7. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection: CMV is a common virus that can affect anyone but does not usually cause symptoms. However, it can cause symptoms in those who have a weak immune system and is a big concern for the pregnant woman (it causes birth defects in newborn). CMV can spread by exposure to body fluids including saliva, blood, urine, breast milk, semen and vaginal fluids.
8. Warts: When present around the mouth, warts can be spread through kissing, especially if there are regions with recent trauma.
9. Tooth decay: When bacteria in your mouth feed on food debris and produce acid as a by-product, it results in tooth decay. The bacteria causing tooth decay can spread from mouth to mouth through shared food and utensils, sneezing, kissing, and other methods.
Precautions to prevent spread of infections by kissing and saliva
There are a few precautions that you can follow to decrease the risk of catching or getting an infection while kissing. Some of this include:
Avoid kissing when you are ill or when the other person is sick.
Avoid kissing anyone on the lips if you or they have an active cold sore, ulcer, or warts around lips or in the mouth.
Maintain good oral hygiene
Sneeze and cough into a handkerchief or tissue when you have a cold.
When kissing children, plant the kiss on the forehead than on the lips, this is especially important for a pregnant woman (to prevent the spread of cytomegalovirus).