Is Kissing Dangerous?

Husbands, wives, parents and children all use kissing to express their love for each other, but did you realize that the act itself could be passing on some serious disease-causing bacteria? Bacteria and viruses exist in everyone's mouth and generally are not problematic. But kissing can transmit a small number of disease-causing bacteria and viruses through the oral cavity. Some diseases are more easily spread through kissing than others. Some examples include:

Upper respiratory tract infections like colds

Mononucleosis, or Mono, which is often called "the kissing disease." It is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which is spread through saliva.

Varicella zoster virus (VZV)is one of eight herpes viruses known to infect humans. It commonly causes chicken pox in adults but rarely in children. Publications have shown significant correlation between oral cancer and several herpes viruses.

Herpes infection, which can also cause cold sores, is highly transmittable. Rubbing a cold sore with your finger and then touching your eye or nasal membranes can easily create a significant problem by transmitting the virus to that site.

Hepatitis B can be spread from bleeding gums to another person through contact with mucous membranes in the mouth. People are more likely to be infected if they have open sores in their mouth.

Bacteria from periodontal disease and decay can also be transmitted person to person. The bacteria that cause tooth decay aren't found in the mouths of newborn babies. A baby's mouth can be infected with another person's saliva when given a kiss on the lips from someone affected with active tooth decay.

Not all news is bad in regards to kissing. Research into passionate kissing has uncovered valuable health benefits. Around 80 percent of bacteria in saliva are common to every mouth, while 20 percent are unique to you. The exchange of these bacteria through saliva stimulates an immune response to create antibodies to fight the foreign bacteria.

 There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of passing on, or catching, an infection while kissing. You should try to:

  • Avoid kissing when a person is sick.
  • Avoid kissing anyone with a cold sore or ulcers around the mouth or lips.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene.

See your doctor about vaccines to prevent some infectious diseases, such as chicken pox, hepatitis B and group C meningococcal infection.

Don't let the potential dangers stop you from kissing. Just be sure to practice good oral hygiene before you begin. Happy kissing!!!