Can Kissing Affect Your Oral Health?

It’s a hot topic of conversation between patients and their dentist.  I have been asked this question time and time again!  There are risks of benefits for each and every decision we make.  In this case, there is bad news along with the good.

Saliva helps us to “self-cleanse”, or wash away food and debris from the surfaces of our teeth and gums where it tends to accumulate and helps in the digestive process.

However, saliva also carries harmful and destructive disease causing bacteria and viruses that can easily spread throughout the mouth, palate, and throat.  These bacteria and viruses can be transmitted via saliva or blood from person to person through kissing.  Babies are born with NO bacteria in their mouth, but are easily infected with the cavity causing bacteria by a kiss on or near the lips.

Viruses that can be spread by kissing:

-Common cold

-Upper Respiratory Infections (URI)

-Infectious Mononucleosis, aka “Mono” or the “Kissing Disease”

-Varicella Zoster (VZV), which causes chickenpox in children and shingles in adults

-Herpes Simplex

-Hepatitis B

-Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

-Viral Meningitis

-Periodontal Disease or “Infectious Gum Disease”

Now, that was the bad news…here’s the good news!  There are many health benefits to passionate kissing.  In a healthy mouth, saliva contains substances that can actually fight bacteria, viruses and fungus.  Passionate or deep kissing increases the flow of saliva, which helps keep the mouth, teeth, and gums healthy.  It can also stimulate the immune system to create antibodies to foreign bacteria which can also help you fight off infection.

Tips to prevent risk while kissing:

-Always avoid kissing when you or the other person is sick

-Always avoid kissing on the lips when you or the other person has an active or healing cold sore (herpes lesion) – wait until the crust has completely healed

-Always avoid kissing when you or the other person has visible warts, or ulcers on or around the lips or inside of the mouth

-Maintain good oral hygiene – brush AND FLOSS – and visit the dentist regularly to be screened for all types of oral diseases, including Oral Cancer!


Just be sure you follow these recommendations and your loved one will thank you for it!

Kiss safely!

*For the complete article, see “Florida Dental Association, Today’s FDA” publication, Reception Room issue 2013, by Dr. Thomas Peltzer, pg 8-9.

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