With the day-to-day chaos that so many people experience, it’s easy to forget the little things you used to love—little things like kissing. While swapping spit may not seem like something Dr. Nandi normally talks about (after all, he’s here to improve your health), kissing does more for your well-being than you may realize. It also has a huge range of health benefits. So if you want to become your own health hero, it’s time to grab your lip gloss and start laying some lip smacks on someone you love.

Here are some of the health benefits you can expect to get from kissing.

Better Dental Hygiene

It may seem counter-intuitive, but kissing actually improves your dental hygiene and makes your mouth cleaner. And it’s not just because you’re brushing more to keep that breath fresh; it’s because kissing increases the amount of saliva you produce, which washes off bacteria and loosens plaque. This keeps those pearly whites whiter and your mouth fresher.

Dr. Nandi's Health QuizLower Stress

When you kiss someone, your brain naturally produces oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding, childbirth, and feelings of closeness. This not only makes you want to kiss the person you’re kissing more, but it also reduces stress and fights cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. So if you’re feeling stressed out, instead of reaching for a Xanax, turn to your partner and press your lips to his.

It Feels Good

You already know that kissing feels good, but it makes you feel good as well. When you kiss passionately, there’s an increase in the amount of serotonin and dopamine in the brain and throughout the body. These neurotransmitters are associated with optimism, euphoria, and feelings of happiness and well-being. They’re also the chemicals targeted by many antidepressants, which means kissing may be as helpful as Prozac or Zoloft.

Whether you’re looking to have a brighter smile, reduce your stress, or just feel better, give kissing a try. According to Dr. Nandi, it’s one of the easiest and most affordable ways to become your own health hero.

Partha’s Rx

  • To get the biggest benefit from kissing, do it for at least 30 seconds a day
  • Kiss regularly and often; at a minimum do it in the morning before work, when you get home, and before bed at night
  • Remember how fun it was making out in the back of a car in high school? Do it now and you’ll enjoy it just as much
  • If you don’t have someone to make out with, that’s okay; you can still realize some of these benefits by holding hands and being close to someone you care about
  • Kissing puts you in the moment and often has a similar effect on the brain as meditation