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Who knew that kissing has actual health benefits?  The scientific study of kissing is called “philematology” (philos in ancient Greek = earthly love).  A Nobel Prize-winning study reported that people who increased their frequency of kissing over a 6-week period had lower cholesterol blood levels, lower allergy symptoms and allergic reactions, relief from hives, and – not surprisingly – lower stress levels!  Kissing also stimulates your brain to release feel-good chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin, which may also dilate blood vessels, thereby reducing headaches and cramps. Kissing is also shown to lower cortisol levels – a stress hormone also associated with difficulty losing fat.  Kissing can burn 5-26 calories per minute, and may also reduce the appearance of wrinkles by tightening and toning facial muscles!

Here’s the BAD news: studies also show that the biggest turnoff when it comes to kissing is – you guessed it – bad breath, while missing teeth, cracked teeth and stained teeth are also rated as very off-putting.  Kissing is a cultural indication of acceptance and affection, and research indicates that 2/3 of us would refuse to date someone with bad breath

A BIG problem here is that most people with bad breath have NO IDEA so… that person could be you.  Bad breath can be a social barrier in everything from friendships to work relationships.  The bad-breath obstacles to kissing and close relationships can result in lower overall self-esteem in everyone from children to teens to adults. Sadly, those with bad breath may notice that others are avoiding them but not quite know why.

Bad breath can be more than just a social deterrent.  While breath odor is most often an oral health issue, other causes include tobacco use, certain foods and medications, and medical issues such as infections in the nose, sinuses and throat, chronic reflux, some cancers and metabolic disorders. The Mayo Clinic adds that in young children an item such as food that’s stuck in a nostril may also cause bad breath, so it’s important for parents to pay attention.

So start with good oral hygiene habits that include regular cleanings and examinations by a dentist who is an expert in pro-active prevention. Though obvious treatments like brushing with toothpaste or using mouthwash can be enough to cure bad breath at first, bad breath can also indicate oral or respiratory infections as well as other GI issues like GERD, which can lead to more serious issues, including cancer. A “wait and see” approach doesn’t always do you many favors (health-wise OR financially) when, very often, we can catch these things early on and intervene with simple solutions and lifestyle change suggestions. This is only a small part of the reason regular dental cleanings and exams are so important!  

I am passionate about helping people get healthy and helping you to stay that way, so it would be my honor to help you be more kissable!  

Your grateful partner in health,

Dr. Mike