Kissing can be many things: sweet, loving, intense, passionate.
But did you know it could also benefit your health? Kissing can also be a hormone releaser, a mini-workout and a mood relaxer.
Scientists have proven that smooching can trigger a whole spectrum of physiological processes to boost your immunity and improve your connection with your partner.
We take you through each one and explain just how beneficial a lip lock can be.
1. It’s good for your teeth
According to dentist Dr Heidi Hausauer, kissing increases saliva flow. This in turn keeps the mouth, teeth and gums healthy by removing food particles.
The extra saliva helps to wash bacteria off the teeth and reduce plaque buildup.
Some experts even claims that the mineral ions in saliva can promote repair of small lesions in tooth enamel.
2. Gives your immune system a boost.
Just as saliva can help oral hygiene, it can also give your immune system a boost.
There are more than 700 types of bacteria inside a human mouth with no two alike. Therefore, exchanging saliva can introduce the body to new bacteria.
Studies have shown that having a diverse amount of bacteria in our bodies correlates with better health pecifically when it comes to our microbiota, or the collection of microorganisms living inside us.
A 2014 Dutch study found that a 10-second French kiss can exchange up to 80 million bacteria between us and our partner.
And while a single kiss isn’t enough to change a person’s microbiota, the researchers found that couples who kissed longer had similar microbiota, meaning that they would be better prepared to fight off similar infections and digest similar foods.
3. Lowers anxiety
Kissing has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol and increase serotonin, a chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance levels in the brain.
It has also been shown to have similar benefits to meditation, mainly from its ability to release oxytocin, also known as the ‘love’ hormone.
Oxytocin can act like a psychological buffer and induces a sense of calm and bonding in humans.
Experts say we experience a surge of the hormone during orgasm but kind words or a gentle touch can also drive oxytocin levels up. This enhances the experience of what we identify as love and trust.
4. Lessens allergic reactions.
Dr Hajime Kimata, who specializes in allergology at a clinic in Japan, won an Ig Nobel Prize for revealing how 30 minutes of kissing can reduce the effect of allergic reactions.
In 2006, his team studied 24 patients with two types of allergies: mild atopic eczema and mild allergic rhinitis, a nasal allergy. The patients were looked at before and after kissing their partners for 30 minutes while listening to soft music.
Specifically, they smooched along to Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On with the belief that the soft ballad would set a romantic mood. The researchers found that kissing reduced the body’s production of IgE, which is the body’s way of reacting to an allergen.
5. Lowers blood pressure.
Because our lips are made up of blood vessels, kissing can lower blood pressure by dilating them and therefore allowing blood to flow to the vital organs.
Plastic surgeon Dr Ryan Neinstein told Glomour: ‘The blood is then directed toward the face and away from the rest of the body so the demand on the heart goes down, resulting in lower blood pressure.’
As explained above, kissing lowers cortisol levels, which not only lowers anxiety, but also blood pressure.
6. Delays signs of aging.
Because kissing increases blood flow to the face, it stimulates the production of collagen, an abundant and important protein found in our bodies according to Dr Neinstein.
‘In order to move your lips, your whole face has to get involved, which increases elasticity,’ he said.
‘Have you seen face yoga, or facercises? There are yogis, estheticians and dermatologists training women to do exercises for their face to stimulate collagen and reduce the need for a face lift. ‘Passionate kissing can lead to firming the face, especially the bottom half of the face.’
7. Burns calories.
Depending on which study you look at, kissing can burn anywhere between two and six calories per minute. However, kissing with tongue which uses all the muscles in your face can burn up to 26 calories per minute.
Andréa Demirjian, author of “Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures”, told CNN it wouldn’t compare to a workout session at the gym, but it would still do its job.
‘Kissing and lovemaking can be a vigorous exercise if you’re fully engaged.You need to have a passionate kiss [in order to burn those calories], but it doesn’t have to be a 10-hour makeout session,’ she said.
Researchers also say we use 30 muscles while kissing, which helps keep your cheeks tight.
8. Increases sex drive.
Kissing prompts your brain to release a happy elixir of feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.
Additionally, testosterone the hormone responsible for sex drive in both women and men is released into saliva during prolonged kissing.
‘Male saliva has trace amounts of testosterone and testosterone is an aphrodisiac,’ Gallup says. ‘So passing saliva during open-mouth kissing over extended periods might help raise her testosterone levels and affect her sex drive,’ Dr Gordon Gallup, a psychologist at the University at Albany, told Men’s Health when 20 complete strangers kiss.