The Risks and Benefits of Kissing on Oral Health

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It might be weird to think about in the moment, but sharing a kiss can actually be beneficial to your mouth. This is because the act of kissing activates certain biological processes you might not be aware of.

While there are benefits of kissing on oral health, risks also exist. Learn more about both the positive and negative oral health effects associated with this gesture.

What's Really Exchanged in a Kiss?

According to a study published in the journal Microbiome, you have over 700 species of bacteria and organisms in your mouth. These bacteria are found in your saliva and on your oral surfaces, including your teeth, tongue, cheeks and surrounding areas. As the study explains, your tongue, in particular, is responsible for many of the microorganisms that wind up in your saliva.

So, what happens when two people kiss? In a single kiss lasting approximately 10 seconds, a whopping 80 million bacteria can be transferred from mouth to mouth!

Benefits of Kissing on Oral Health

You may question how the exchange of saliva and bacteria could possibly be healthy, but kissing may offer some notable oral health benefits.

For starters, kissing can increase salivary flow, as the Victoria State Government notes. Saliva is important because it helps to wash away excess food debris in the mouth and neutralizes harmful acids that can cause tooth decay, explains the Mayo Clinic. Some organisms in your saliva can actually help to decrease bacterial growth and even slow down plaque formation, as noted by the British Society for Immunology. Certain organisms in saliva help stop the growth of harmful bacteria, such as those responsible for oral thrush or strains of Streptococcus bacteria, which play a part in tooth decay. In short, a healthy saliva flow promotes a healthy mouth.

And while kissing isn't a sure path to immunity, the Victoria State Government reports that kissing exposes you to more germs, which can help to boost your immune system. So, to some degree, you're strengthening your body's resistance to infectious organisms when sharing a kiss!

Risks of Swapping Saliva

There is always some risk of illness when coming into contact with bodily fluid. Kissing can make you susceptible to contagious illnesses, such as the common cold, herpes simplex virus or certain mouth warts, as the Victoria State Government notes.

Kissing can also transmit the bad bacteria that lead to cavities. This risk is particularly important to keep in mind when kissing babies and newborns. They don't have the bacteria that cause tooth decay in their mouths at birth, but if someone with infected saliva kisses them, those bacteria can then colonize.

How to Maintain Oral Health When Kissing

The act of kissing has its benefits and risks, and it can ultimately affect your oral health. Follow these tips and best practices from the Victoria State Government to ensure that your gesture has no unintended consequences:

  • Avoid kissing babies directly on the lips to prevent putting them at risk for tooth decay.
  • Do not kiss someone if you — or they — are ill or have any mouth sores present.
  • Maintain optimal oral hygiene, which includes brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing once daily and visiting your dentist every six months.

It's in everyone's best interest to maintain excellent oral and bodily health. Keep in mind these risks and benefits of kissing on oral health, and feel good about sharing this intimate gesture safely!


This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.

Keep your teeth clean with an oral health routine.

Establishing an oral health routine is important for a healthy mouth. Try one of our oral health products to help you establish a schedule.