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Swapping spit

Kissing is something most people do. However, most don’t know the science behind a simple kiss. There are many benefits, but there can be drawbacks as well. It’s important to know the facts before you lock lips with your significant other.

Graphic by Maddy VanOrman
Graphic by Maddy VanOrman

With all of the bacteria swimming around in saliva, it is curious why anyone would partake in the act of kissing. Is it possible that the positives could outweigh the negatives? Let’s find out. Here are a few benefits of smooching you may not have known.

One milliliter of saliva contains over a hundred million bacteria. Despite the human mouth’s antibacterial characteristics, some people’s oral bacteria turns into cold sores, canker sores, periodontal disease, venereal disease, mononucleosis, fungal infections and you can’t forget about bad breath.

With all that bacteria traversing your saliva, it should be comforting to know that kissing combats cavities and washes away the plaque on your teeth. A great way to get your salivary glands pumping is a good old-fashioned make out session.

Kissing helps alleviate depression and stress. During a kiss, your brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine sends signals throughout your brain and nervous system, increases your heart rate and is often referred to as the “reward drug”. In fact, symptoms related to a jolt of dopamine, like appetite loss and sleeplessness, are quite similar in association to falling in love.

Dopamine is not the only hormone related to kissing. For men, a passionate kiss can release oxytocin, which is strongly correlated to bonding and attachments. Kissing reduces cortisol production, which boosts your immune system and lowers blood pressure.

For ladies, kissing not only burns calories but it also tones 30 facial muscles, increasing circulation and smoothing the skin. In a moderate kissing session, a 115-pound person could burn about 13 calories in 15 minutes and a 250-pound person would burn about 26 calories in the same amount of time. Although kissing does burn calories, it is not a proper substitute for regular cardiovascular exercise.

Kissing gets people close enough to smell and assess romantic compatibility. Psychologists Rachel Herz and Estelle Campenni have discovered that romance and sense of smell are related. The brain recognizes another person’s scent, determining whether or not their coding genes are compatible with their own.

Some studies even reveal that kissing can lead to a longer life span. A frequent kisser is less likely to suffer from stomach, bladder and blood infections. Those who kiss their partners everyday live five years longer than those who do not.

Kissing can result in better marriages, initiate arousal and amplify sexual experiences, which can ensure a pleasurable encounter for all. It also releases endorphins, making people happier.

According to a German study, men who get hot and steamy kisses from their wives before work make more money and have more productive days. Isn’t that enough to convince you to get your puckers going?

Kissing is great, right? Not always. Lavinia Hafoka Malekamu, 23-year-old Weber State University communication student, believes there is a time and place for it, “I hate people who kiss in public, like go to the bathroom or find a room!”

Now we know that although sucking face swaps bacteria-filled saliva and can make people uncomfortable in public, the positive effects are well worth the practice of good oral hygiene habits to swap some spit.

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