A good kiss - in all its forms - feels great. Most people think of kissing as an act of affection and passion between partners. They are right, but kissing, when you get to the basics is an act of rubbing faces against each other and exchanging saliva. And this has many health benefits. Kisses serve many purposes aside from the most obvious one of how it makes you feel. It shows who you are, how you see yourself, who you want your partner to be; it can heal you, boost your immunity, keep your teeth healthy; and it can even help you burn (a few) extra calories.
It's called philematology
This is what the scientific study of kissing is called. Romance has nothing to do with it. Philos in ancient Greek means earthly love.
Dozens of muscles are involved
The orbicularis oris is the main set of skeletal muscle involved. It's the one that allows the lips to pucker. Simple kisses use as few as 2 muscles, whereas passionate kissing can involve as many as 23 to 34 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles, according to research.
You burn calories
If you don't like exercising, kissing is another way to burn calories. However, be prepared that it may take a lot of kissing to shed extra pounds. Even "passionate" kissing burns just about 6-7 calories per minute. The act of kissing consumes up to 26 calories per minute.
It keeps your teeth healthy
Saliva has many anti-bacterial properties due to the minerals in it. Studies have shown that licking wounds makes scientific sense because it is a natural antiseptic. A person is secreting more saliva while kissing, which means you're basically washing away the plaque on the teeth, helping prevent tooth decay, according to research.
Expect an increase in dopamine level
This is especially true if it's the very first kiss with someone new. Dopamine is one of four hormones that go by the nickname "happy hormone," and acts as a neurotransmitter. The increased level of dopamine is also responsible for you wanting more kisses.
A short kiss transfers millions of bacteria and microbes
As many as 10 million to 1 billion bacteria representing 278 different species may be exchanged during an active kiss. Also, during kissing, people exchange an average of 9 mL of water, 0.7 mg of protein, 0.18 mg of organic compounds, 0.71 mg of different fats, and 0.45 mg of sodium chloride.
Heart beats faster
This is because of neurotransmitters epinephrine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, released by the adrenal gland, which got the signal to do so by the brain during kissing. They promote the fight-or-flight response.
Kissing may help you fight infections
The living bacteria you exchange with your partner during kissing can help your body fight certain infections. The shared germs boost your immune system. You introduce to each other bacteria the other person may encounter later on, making his or her body more prepared to fight it.
Oxytocin levels skyrocket
It's no coincidence that oxytocin is often called "the love hormone," according to Psychology Today. The more you kiss, the more oxytocin you make. Perhaps, this explains why you feel so happy after kissing. Bonus: The hormone oxytocin increases empathy and communication, which is key to sustaining a relationship, research shows.
Cortisol level dip
Cortisol is a body's enemy. Sudden spikes in the level of "stress" hormone wreak havoc on your brain and immune system. Research has found that kissing may lower cortisol levels, making you feel safe, relaxed and happy.
Kissing lowers blood pressure
If you think about it, while you're kissing you are actually literally almost smiling, you're breathing deeper, and your eyes are pretty much closed. All relaxing Zen movements, according to WebPsychology. Also, since the lips are full of blood vessels, which dilate during kissing, the blood goes toward the face, away from the rest of the body, so the heart doesn't have to work very hard, lowering your blood pressure.
Brain gets more oxygen
Your heart is pumping faster, which is a good thing. The increased heartbeat causes the blood vessels to dilate, which means more blood and oxygen to your organs, including the brain.
Kiss your hubby goodbye; he'll live longer
Research that goes back to the 1960s shows that a nice way to boost one's life expectancy is to give them a kiss before they go to work. Men who kissed their wives goodbye live about five years longer, make up to 30 percent more money, and are part of fewer car accidents.
You close your eyes because pupils dilate
Kissing is an exciting act that immediately gets a respond from the nervous system. Pupils dilate, more light penetrates the eyes, making them a lot more sensitive, which is why you close them right away.
Guys pass on testosterone
Men tend to initiate French kissing and research suggests this is because saliva contains testosterone and this increases the sex drive of their mate. "There is evidence that saliva has testosterone in it," said Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, "and testosterone increases sex drive. And there is evidence that men like sloppier kisses with more open mouth. That suggests they are unconsciously trying to transfer testosterone to stimulate sex drive in women."
PDA is about competition
Kissing in public is a not all about being affectionate. A study of college students found that about one third of people engaging in PDA do it because they want others to see them. Participants' motivations included enhancing their image (men), causing jealousy or envy (women), demonstrating a relationship (both men and women).
Kissing helps you figure out "The One"
Chemicals in the saliva may be a way to assess a mate. If you have ever been attracted to someone only to dislike them after you kiss, the reason may very well be that he or she didn't have the right hormones in his saliva. It looks like people are drawn to others with particular biological profiles. So, it really does come down to chemistry after all.
It may also improve allergy symptoms
A study that included Japanese who do not kiss habitually suggests that kissing reduces allergic skin hives responses and plasma neurotrophin levels. The participants were divided into three groups - 30 with atopic dermatitis, 30 with allergic rhinitis, and 30 in a control group - and were kissing for half an hour.
Women don't like beards
It may look good on some men, but as far as most women are concerned - 53 percent, to be exact - don't like kissing it, according to William Cane, author of The Art of Kissing. About 33 percent of women like kissing men with stubble every now and then.
It also makes you more alert
Kissing causes the production and release of adrenaline and noradrenaline. They get your body ready for "fight or flight," or simply put, they make you alert and get you ready for action.