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Smooch — The Pros and Cons of Kissing

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day last week, we had several patients ask us about kissing. So, we decided to do some research on the pros and cons of kissing.  We found several good things and some bad things that come with kissing loved ones, including your furry friends!  

Kissing is Good For Your Teeth

One of the most interesting things about kissing is that it is actually good for your teeth!  It increases saliva production and, as saliva is a natural lubricant, it helps remove plaque and washes it away.  It may sound gross, but it’s extremely helpful to our bodies.  Also, kissing can boost our immune systems.

Kissing Can Spread Cavities, Not Just Colds

Of course, we all know that if you have a cold you can pass it to another person via kissing.  However, the same surprisingly goes for cavities or any kind of gum disease, which you can also be passing along to whomever you lock lips with.  Research has shown that you can catch a cavity just as easily as you catch a cold!  Yes, cavities are formed by not brushing, eating too many sugary foods, etc, but you’re chances of getting a cavity is greatly increased by kissing someone with one (or a history of getting cavities easily)!

Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease Can be Transmitted by Kissing

The same goes for gum disease.  If you have been diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontal disease, think twice about sharing a kiss with a spouse or loved one. Even children can get a gum disease from sharing kisses. Parents with active gum disease can easily transmit periodontal disease to their children. This doesn’t mean that parents have to act differently towards their children, but should be extremely aware of the fact that they can give their child or children gum disease early in life if they don’t treat their own immediately.  Regular check ups are very important to monitor and maintain the gum disease in the parents.

Are Pet Kisses Safe?

If you are like many pet owners, you might even get a kiss here and there from your dog.  Many people think this is a natural, loving thing to do and get daily kisses from their furry companions.  Even some veterinarians admit to letting their dogs kiss them on the mouth.   Even though there’s debate among animal health professionals that dog’s mouths are cleaner than humans.

Yes, animals lick their wounds and avoid infection sometimes, but some veterinarians believe that it’s actually their rough tongue that is removing the bacteria instead of their saliva being some kind of antiseptic. Animals have different bacteria in their mouths than humans, which makes it less possible to transfer anything between mouth and snout…but animals are constantly licking themselves (everywhere!) and eating things off the ground, so keep that in mind the next time you lean in for a smooch.

On the flip side, Dr. Paul Maza, co-director of the health center at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University says, “Many of the different types of bacteria in dogs and cats are the same type of bacteria as in humans. At any given point in time they are probably not any dirtier than ours,” Maza said.

In fact, Maza said if owners practice oral hygiene on their pets, like with brushing their teeth, a pet’s mouth can actually be even cleaner than a human mouth.

“Because most of the bacteria and viruses in a dog’s mouth are the same as in a person’s mouth, it is safe to kiss a dog, just like a person. You can probably catch more from kissing a human than a dog or cat,” he said.

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So, we agree that more research is needed on the subject of pet kissing.

Clean Mouths and Kisses

In conclusion, kissing can be good for you and your health. Just please make sure you keep coming in for regular cleanings and checkups to avoid contracting a gum disease or cavities so you don’t pass either of those on to anyone.

Blog post prepared by Affliliated Dentists Madison.

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