Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I have some really bad bacteria in my mouth,
So I should kiss you.

Not very romantic, is it? And definitely not a message you’d wish to scribble on a Valentine’s Day card. Nor the perfect partner for chocolates, flowers, or whatever Valentine’s gift you may have chosen.

But wait! 

Just like the moral lessons hidden in the words of Aesop’s fables, or the works of Hans Christian Anderson, there may be a little bit of truth lurking somewhere in the text. After all, roses are red, violets are blue (Alright, violet, but you know what I mean), I do have bad bacteria in my mouth (all of us do), but why should I ‘kiss you’, and how could it save me a trip to the dentist?

OK. Let’s do some science, but just the basic stuff.

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The science of big sloppy kisses

Savor the moment.

The music choice is lovers’ jazz, the lights are low, and the champagne is on ice. The lovers step closer together, they embrace and feel the hot breath of their partner on their face, their lips inching closer by the second with anticipation. Finally, their lips touch, their mouths open, and the saliva starts to flow.

Sorry, but that’s exactly what happens when you get dragged into a big sloppy kiss, the saliva starts to flow. 

However – and here’s the thing – the production of saliva is essential to good dental hygiene. Saliva helps to remove microscopic food particles which, even after intense brushing and flossing, get stuck between your teeth and can lead to some pretty nasty diseases.

Saliva also helps to neutralize corrosive acids which can lead to severe tooth decay and gum disease. So, don’t stop the smooch just yet, it might be the most fun dental care you’ve ever had.

Along with saliva, there’s more than passion being shared by a kissing couple. 

According to Colgate – the international manufacturer of oral hygiene products – ‘In a single kiss lasting approximately 10 seconds, a whopping 80 million bacteria can be transferred from mouth to mouth!’ (That’s 80 times more than the annual East African wildebeest migration).

Some of these organisms can help to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and help to slow the formation of plaque. Others can fight the bacteria which give rise to oral thrush or Streptococcus, both of which are bad for your overall health, not just your dental health.

And finally, even if you swap some ‘not so friendly’ germs in your passionate saliva swapping you may in fact be helping to boost your body’s immune system. 

And the song dares to ask, ‘What’s in a kiss?

Photo by Miroslava on Unsplash

Kissing, the gift that keeps on giving

With St. Valentine’s Day fast approaching there’s bound to be a lot of mouth mushing going on. But that’s a good thing.

Maybe you didn’t know:

  • Kissing increases your heartbeat making it pump more oxygen to your brain. This increased flow of oxygen releases ‘feel-good’ hormones such as adrenaline, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
  • Kissing is a bit like a mini-workout in the gym. Last time you pressed lips with someone you probably didn’t realize that you were using 112 postural muscles – all over your body – along with 34 facial muscles, which can actually help you to look and feel younger.
  • Kissing triggers your nervous system into various actions. One of those actions is that during a passionate kiss your pupils are more likely to dilate. That’s why during a really good smooching people tend to close their eyes which have become more sensitive to light.
  • It’s the release of the hormone oxytocin during kissing that helps keep the feeling of love in a relationship. Oxytocin is most closely related to our feelings of connection with other people.
  • Why do so many love songs contain the lines ‘I can’t eat, I can’t sleep…’? Easy. Kissing releases the chemical dopamine. The dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter – a chemical messenger that helps transmit signals around our body – some of those signals result in sleeplessness and a loss of appetite.
  • Forget the gym, one minute of kissing can actually help you burn up to 3 calories. The longer the kiss the better the workout.
  • If you want to help reduce your blood pressure then you’d better start kissing. The increased heartbeat associated with kissing makes your blood vessels expand, lowering your blood pressure.
  • Kiss my orbicularis oris! No, I’m not being rude. The orbicularis oris is a complicated set of muscles that surround your entire mouth. This muscle group is comprised of four quadrants and it’s these quadrants that work together to form that particular mouth shape (the pucker) which we use when we kiss.
  • On Valentine’s Day, or any other time that you’re lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a kiss, check whether your head is tilted to the left or to the right. It’s a fact, but most people tend to tilt their heads to the right when they kiss. 
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Think of a kiss as a very precious gift 

A well-intentioned kiss is a wonderful gift. 

A kiss which is given with love is something to be treasured always, a memory to be stored and remembered at will.

But there are all kinds of Valentine’s gifts, not just kisses.

On Valentine’s Day, we show affection in a whole host of ways, both traditional and non-traditional. In the USA alone almost $20 billion will be spent specifically on Valentine’s gifts, cards, treats, and other ways of expressing our love.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • In the USA, people celebrating Valentine’s Day will spend over $20 billion 
  • Over 250 million fresh flowers will be produced solely for the US market
  • Couples will send or swap almost 150 million greeting cards
  • The cost of cards and postage will reach over $1 billion
  • Almost $2 billion will be splashed on candies
  • Nearly $5 billion will be spent on gifts of jewelry
  • The average person will spend approx. $143.56 on Valentine’s related activities
  • $5.50 is the average spend on Valentine’s gifts for pets

That all adds up to an awful lot of money, and an awful lot of flowers, cards, candies, and jewelry that will end up in the trash. (OK, I’ve never been accused of being a romantic at heart). But you have to admit it, it’s a lot of money.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Lovers love the gift of experience

People are starting to see the value of giving real-life experiences instead of material possessions, possessions which will eventually end up as landfill and a burden on the planet.

Perhaps the whole reason people’s choices are evolving isn’t completely associated with altruism towards the environment but on a greater understanding of how new experiences, adventures, shared moments in nature and travels to new places offer greater rewards to both parties.

A whole host of experience gift companies are already tapping into this brave new world. They are offering experiences like balloon rides, tango lessons, spa treatments, bungee jumps, rural retreats, and a whole host of other activities designed to create stories and memories.

Some of these experience gift companies can boast sustainability as a key sales point. One such company is Tinggly who offers a collection of over 2,000 experiences in over 100 countries around the world. 

For every experience redeemed by the recipient, Tinggly will offset the CO2 footprint by 200%. They will also remove 33lbs of plastic from the environment (that’s almost 660 plastic bottles). And, all of their packagings is 100% recycled/recyclable using planet-friendly inks.

OK, these may not be the first things that spring to mind when it comes to choosing a Valentine’s Day gift. But, there can be no argument that it’s a big plus. 

Whatever you choose to give as a token of your love on this Valentine’s Day, roses, champagne, jewelry, or a gondola ride at sunset in Venice, don’t be afraid to seal the occasion with a kiss. It’s not as scary as I made it sound. Promise.

Jump from an aircraft
Learn how to ski
No matter the experience
Please do it with me