A new study suggests people who lick their lips and mouth more frequently tend to lick their teeth more than people who do not.
A study out Tuesday from the University of Maryland and the University at Buffalo suggests licking and kissing more frequently in social situations is associated with improved oral hygiene.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Oral Surgery, found that people who kissed their lips more often and did so less frequently were less likely to have dental plaque, or cavities, on their mouths.
More than half of people in the study reported they had toothache or gingivitis, the common disease caused by bacteria that can cause gum disease.
Researchers also looked at whether kissing and lip smacking would increase people’s likelihood of having oral problems later in life.
“People who kissed and smiled more often were less at risk of developing oral disease, while kissing less frequently or doing so more infrequently were less susceptible to developing dental plaque,” Dr. J.D. Houghton, an assistant professor in the department of dentistry and oral health at the University, said in a statement.
In the study, people who did kiss more often also reported fewer gum problems.
But people who only kissed a little bit more often or did not kiss much at all were also less likely than those who only smiled.
This study suggests kissing and licking is associated to better oral hygiene, Dr. Houghtons study said.
And people who spit less, chew less, and chew less frequently are more likely to get gum problems later on.
While there’s no guarantee that kissing or licking will help a person’s oral health, it may help prevent cavities.