A Perfect Kiss

Barbara Tritz
· December 8, 2022 ·

10 minutes

What makes up the perfect kiss? As an expert in the oro-facial-respiratory complex, I thought I might just delve into this fun and delightful topic. There is so much more to know about puckering up in a tree, K.I.S.S.I.N.G. >>> And guess what? Your dental hygienist and a myofunctional therapist may be your secret weapons in helping you create the best kiss of your life again and again, (with or without mistletoe).

couple holding hands with red heart balloon
Photo by Natalie on Pexels.com

Kissing is Wonderful.

We kiss those we love. Baby kisses on their sweet little heads, breathing in the newborn scent- can life get any better? Wet sloppy toddler kisses given out of love, again, life at its purest. Kissing hello and goodbye to show signs of affection. Air kisses – really the unkiss-kiss, pretending to show affection. Then there is the teenage first kiss, wonderful, exciting and enchanting. And finally, romantic kissing those we love with passion and emotion, life becomes total joy.

Kissing Feels Good

Kissing is great for your brain! When we kiss, it does feel so good, and here’s why! Just a little tiny bit of biological science – the sensation of the lips stimulates the brain into overdrive, releasing three “feel-good” hormones: oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine.

These hormones are neurotransmitters- chemical messengers for the brain. They are signalling molecules that allow neurons, cells of the brain and nervous system to “talk” to each other across a synapse or gap. Neurons don’t actually touch so the electrical signal jumps from cell to cell over the gap thanks to the neurotransmitters.

Kiss a lot for Brain Health

No transmitter, no cell connections, and this creates a whole host of problems such as depression, anxiety, addiction, Bipolar and Parkinson’s disease.

Neurotransmitters – They Make Kissing Feel Good

Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone”. It is connected to romantic attachment and is released in the body with hugs, massage, cuddling, and can even be increased with music or exercise. It strengthens the mother-child bond. And, it reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Hug away!

Seratonin is a mood booster. Kissing elevates your serotonin levels and brings you that “feel good, all is right with the world ” feeling of euphoria. It also regulates mood, behavior, sleep, memory and sexuality. It enters our body through food such as meat, eggs, and nuts.

Dopamine regulates sexual desire, as well as memory, learning, movement control, and blood flow. It is part of the motivation and reward system in the brain. We are “hard-wired” to seek out things that release dopamine and give us pleasure. Hm, kissing fits that description.

Lips, lips and lips

And all this from just lips touching lips. Lips have more nerve endings than any other body part. That’s part of the reason kissing feels so good.

Kissing is Good for You

Kiss Often

Kissing is so healthy for you. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, helps relieve cramps, improves your self esteem, soothes headaches, and improves your immune system. It also reduces allergies, improves your cholesterol , and stimulates salivary flow. It can share good oral bacteria. And fun fact, it burn calories and tightens facial muscles. Kiss more, look younger. Kissing sounds like great medicine.

Elements of the Perfect Kiss

Part I

Here’s where the dental hygienist can really help. The perfect kiss starts with a clean, healthy mouth and moist, smooth lips.

#1. Start with a clean tongue.

A tongue cleaner is your best tool. Used twice a day, it will help ensure your breath is fresh. And, it may just reduce morning breath.

Use your tongue sweeper until there is no more plaque coming off the tongue. It functions rather like a cross between a rake and a squeegee. And here’s the real key- go as far back onto the tongue as you possibly can. That’s where the stinky, sticky plaque lives. Yes, I realize it might make you gag. Here’s my secret trick- stick out your tongue, and pant. As you breathe out, stroke the tongue sweeper the length of the tongue. Pant and scrape it clean. (Not sexy but very effective). You will peel off and remove layers of plaque biofilm.

#2. It should go without saying, but no lingering foul odors.

The thing no one really talks about but gums, mints, breath candies, or mouthwashes do not remove bad smells. They just make the bad smell a “minty bad smell”. Not much of an improvement. But, Madison Avenue has convinced the average consumer that you need mouthwash. Not true. They take up a lot of shelf space so someone’s buying them, BUT- THEY DON’T WORK. They just maybe mask the odor for 10 minutes And, sadly, most of them are very acidic. Tooth decay bacteria love an acidic mouth.

Instead, try Spry dry mouth spray by XLEAR to stimulate salivary production.

Here’s a breath odor checker: Fitscan. See how you rate! It looks at your levels of volatile sulfur compounds. No one wants to tell you that your breath is bad but they remember. To keep it sweet smelling, monitor it, and spend extra time on your oral hygiene selfcare.

Ask your hygienist for tips and help on eliminating bad breath and mouth odors.

It should go without saying but maybe raw onions, garlic, tuna, peanut butter, and spicy foods might best be left off the menu if romance is in the air ;>)

How do you tell someone they have bad breath? Give them this article 😉

#3. Next, Clean Teeth.

This is where an electric toothbrush shines best. (Pun intended) Clean, smooth teeth are an essential element of the perfect kiss.

Brush the teeth, and then go back and brush your gums. Plaque biofilm builds up on the gums, as well as the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, and all the tissues in the mouth.

When you are done brushing, give everything else a swipe. And then, give it a gargle too. Let’s also clean the throat and tonsils. Tonsils harbor more bacteria. “Tonsil stones”. or professionally called tonsilloliths can be the cause of really bad breath. These white, cottage cheese textured, bacterial-ladened stones attach themselves to the nooks and crannies of the tonsils. They are also filled with mucus and dead cells so no surprise but they can be odiferous. The main cause of tonsil stone development is …mouth breathing. (See #7 below)

Secret number 2- brush longer than you think you need. We do not want any sharing of bad bacteria and other pathogens.

I give my patients disclosing tablets so they can see how good a job they do removing all the stinky plaque. It can be quite an eye-opener to see how long it takes to remove the plaque, especially at the gum line. It is very sticky, as well as stinky.

For really clean teeth, electric toothbrushes are the way to go!

#4. Healthy Gums for the Perfect Kiss

Clean in between the teeth- food debris gets trapped there. So, here’s the flossing lecture. Go where the gunk lives, in between the teeth, under the gum line, under the bridges, implants, and dental appliances, and especially behind the last teeth. If you are a flosser, great, If you are not, then talk with your fabulous and incredibly smart dental hygienist to find tools that will help you clean in-between. ( Or ask me. I have thoughts and suggestions.)

Please trust me when I say the plaque biofilm is filled with bad, germy bacteria and viruses. And these bugs live underneath the gums and in between the teeth, and they smell (see #2.) To hit’em where they live, please consider a water flosser because you cannot get the bugs out with just flossing and brushing. Here’s where a little minty mouthwash in the Waterpik might be acceptable to use.

If your gums bleed, you have a gum infection and that also smells. Time to address that with said wonderful dental hygienist.

While I didn’t want to go into depth about bad bacteria that cause gum infections, it is probably time to mention that they can be spread by kissing. Also, respiratory viruses, canker sores, mononucleosis, and hepatitis are also all very contagious. Got that lip tingle, don’t share. Coughing, or feeling punky, go down some vitamin C and take care of yourself.

#5. Toothpaste for the Win

I often get asked what is the best toothpaste. It depends on what you need. I have several I like for their medicinal value: kill bad bacteria, feed good bacteria, remineralize teeth, and prevent decay. That’s a post for another day.

What I do not like in a toothpaste is too many chemicals, fluoride, and an overwhelming minty flavor. The only time I like mint is in Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. Whatever toothpaste you choose, get easy on the flavoring agents. Fake mint flavor is just overwhelming. A clean fresh breath is, in my opinion, more important and enticing . Just my humble opinion. (Same goes for mints…)

#6. Dental Appliances Need Love Too

Those dental appliances get smelly. They absorb mouth odors. Morning mouth becomes denture breath. Smells equal bacteria. Please use a denture brush and scrub the plaque off them daily. They get a slippery bacterial biofilm growing on them and all the same plaque and tartar that teeth get.

If you cannot get them clean, please bring them to your dental office and ask for help in getting the plaque and tartar off. Sometimes it takes me just as long to clean the appliances as it does the teeth, so please just bring it to every appointment.

Kissing with dentures is the same as kissing with regular teeth. My recommendation is to use a little more adhesive to keep them securely in place. Kiss gently and softly so you don’t release the suction of the denture. If the dentures don’t stay in place, please find a dentist that can help you have the snugness you need so you can be confident in your pucker power.

Part II

Here’s the next person on the team to help you on your quest for the perfect kiss- the Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist.

#6. Moist Lips are Sexy, Healthy Lips

Healthy lips start with nasal breathing. And, deep kisses also need you to be able to use your nose for breathing. Mouth breathing dries out the lips and makes them rough and cracked. If you are addicted to chapstick, you just might be a mouth breather. Keep your lips moisturized and lightly together, teeth apart, and breathe through your nose.

Sensuous lips are strong lips. The muscle around the lips form a circle. It is called the orbicularis oris. There are strengthening exercises the myofunctional therapist can share that will improve lip movement, help keep your lips together, and reduce facial wrinkles in this area. That’s a win-win-win in my book. Strong lips=perfect kisses.

Remember, just even touching the lips stimulates neurotransmitters.

Soft Lips are Healthy Lips

#7. Nasal Breathing For Perfect Kisses

Deep passionate kisses require nasal breathing. We don’t want you gasping for air. Nasal breathing requires a healthy nasal cavity. Use your nose for its intended use, breathing.

As I tell my kiddos, the nose is for breathing and the mouth is for eating. The mouth is only an emergency hatch in case you fall and smash your nose. It is not meant to be used 24/7 for breathing.

So, time to talk about nasal hygiene. Bet you did not see that one coming! Cleaning your nose is just as or more important than oral hygiene. I like Xlear nasal spray but saline rinses are also good. Spray twice daily. Spray to the side, not straight back (that just heads the solution back down the throat). Spray and dab, don’t blow the solution right back out. Leave it in the nasal cavity.

And breathe in and out through the nose. This reduces anxiety, increases blood oxygen levels and improves your athletic abilities. ‘Nuff said.

Nose is for Breathing, Mouth is for Eating

#8. A Strong, Agile Tongue

Believe it or not, but there are exercises that can help make you a better kisser- a myo therapist can guide you in strengthening the tongue and assess for restrictions ( IE tongue and lip ties – more on that in a moment).

As a myofunctional therapist, I teach my patients how to do a surfboard tongue, and also learn to control the tongue with other exercises. A strong tongue takes work. Just like going to the gym and working other muscles, the tongue needs a workout too, The tongue is a muscle and gets flabby and lazy without use. A perfect kiss needs a strong and gentle tongue, that is controlled and agile.

So, here’s the thing, a restricted tongue that can’t reach anywhere, that puddles on the floor of the mouth, that is untoned and floppy – is not in a great position to be a great kisser. Parents that may not want to release their baby’s tongue tie because the baby is eating “fine” have not fully considered all the long-term ramifications of leaving the tongue tethered to the floor of the mouth. The myofunctional therapist can help assess the baby and give a professional opinion.

A tongue tie restricts tongue movement. Releasing the ties and doing the exercises just might turn you into the world’s best kisser. The perfect kiss takes some work but is worth it.

Tongue Ties Limit the Flexibilty and Strength of the Tongue

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pucker up, life’s too short to pass up this healthy and fun activity. Hope you find some mistletoe and enjoy a perfect kiss underneath. Hugs and kisses are the perfect gifts. One size fits all and can be easily returned.

I wish you much love and the Perfect Kiss this Christmas Season, and even more Perfect Kisses for a great 2023.

With Love,

Barbara

Merry Christmas and The Happiest New Year

Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

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2 Comments

  1. Jackie Lindrup

    Great article!!! Love all of it! Thanks Barbara! Jackie

    Reply
    • Barbara Tritz

      Thank you Jackie!!
      Merry Christmas,
      Barbara

      Reply

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