Your mouth is constantly bathed in saliva, especially when you chow down on a delicious meal. Why does the body naturally produce this fluid and how does it keep your teeth and gums healthy?
What Is Saliva?
Your salivary glands produce a fluid made up of water, mucous, minerals and enzymes. In total,
you have six larger, major salivary glands and hundreds of smaller, minor ones. Saliva moves
through ducts to keep your mouth moist, increasing in production as you chew.
How Does Saliva Improve Oral Health?
Saliva serves many different functions, all related to oral hygiene and whole-body health.
If you have ever studied the digestive system, you know that the breakdown of food begins in the mouth. Besides chewing with your teeth, food also breaks down when it comes into contact with saliva, which contains an enzyme called amylase.
Amylase helps make food easier to digest in the stomach, but saliva also enhances your taste
buds, making eating more enjoyable as well.
One of saliva’s additional central functions is to rinse away acidic bacteria from the surface of
teeth. It re-mineralizes the teeth, preserving tooth enamel, and it also contains antibodies which
fight against infection and disease. Since it rinses your mouth naturally and keeps decay at bay,
your breath smells better when you have an adequate supply.
The Dangers of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a condition affecting people who do not produce enough saliva. Sometimes certainmedications or medical treatments, or a health condition like diabetes, can cause dry mouth.
First of all, without enough saliva, you’ll be uncomfortable when you try to chew or swallow.
You will be at a higher risk of developing fungal and bacterial infections, and your teeth will
develop cavities easier.
Your dentist can help you overcome dry mouth caused by prescriptions by recommending a
replacement medication. You can also try to chew sugar-free gum in order to stimulate the
salivary glands. Always make sure you’re drinking enough water. Dehydration can be another
cause of this condition.
New medical developments involving saliva could help doctors and dentists pinpoint the early
signs of disease. Since it contains molecules that could help medical professionals identify
cancer, diabetes and other health conditions, the focus on developing testing technology is
While saliva plays an important role in keeping your mouth healthy, it can’t work alone. Besides
regular oral hygiene, you also should schedule bi-annual checkups with your dentist. Make an
appointment with Oak Hills Dentistry today. We can check your saliva production and help
ensure your teeth and gums stay clean and disease and decay-free.