Kissing is one of the simplest forms of expressing affection and love to those around us. Depending on where you’re from, you might have actually kissed new people on the cheek in greeting. We want to kiss babies, our children, friends and of course our partners. When in a romantic embrace, your heart starts pounding, you feel the thrill of the moment and you even get butterflies in your stomach — if you’re into it, that is. Obviously, there are many pleasures in kissing, but researchers have found that there are also major health benefits to the activity. Here are five of them:
1. Kissing boosts the immune system
Romantic kissing, even when it’s between people on a first date, can be beneficial to your immune system. According to a 2005 study in Neuroendocrinology Letters, lust — and the kissing that goes along with it — affects the body by reducing stress levels that help promote a healthy state. Another study, published in the journal Microbiome found that couples who kiss at least nine times per day share the same microbiota in their saliva. That means that together, partners can enjoy an improved immune system and less need for sick days.
2. Kissing might help reduce sadness or depression
Kissing releases feel-good neurotransmitters including the love hormone, oxytocin, and vasopressin, the hormone that bonds partners with one another, and mothers with their babies. Studies also show that dopamine, which affects the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, is released when we kiss our loved one.
3. Kissing can reduce blood pressure
According to Andréa Demirjian, author of Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures, when we kiss someone passionately, our heart rate increases in a healthy way — much like during healthy exercise — and can help lower blood pressure. “It dilates your blood vessels — blood is flowing in a good, solid fashion and getting to all your vital organs.”
4. Kissing can help reduce your stress levels
Kissing in partnered relationships can have a positive effect on stress levels. Citing Affection Exchange Theory, a 2009 study published in theWestern Journal of Communication found that physical affection, including kissing, helps build resilience against stress. It also lowers cortisol levels in the body and may help reduce inflammation and illness as a side effect.
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5. Kissing is good for your teeth
While this isn’t the sexiest benefit to kissing, the extra saliva in your mouth during a smooch session helps wash bacteria off your teeth. Although as Dr. Mathew Messina, a dentist and consumer advisor for the American Dental Association, says, “Still, I would not go around advocating kissing after meals instead of brushing.” But, for those of us in a great romantic relationship, it can’t hurt.
Not only is kissing beneficial to your health, but studies show being in a partnered relationship can help keep you healthy.