Saliva and Oral Health
Saliva produced in the mouth is an important weapon for healthy teeth. Whilst it is a subject not highly spoken about, it is actually very important for a happy and healthy long-term smile. Without enough production of saliva, you’re open to experiencing dry mouth and difficulties in overall mouth functioning such as chewing and speaking. You’re also open to tooth decay which will require dental emergency treatment, infection and a weakened immune system, which is also vital for positive oral health.
Below explains how in greater detail.
What Is Saliva?
Saliva comprises of water, mucus, amylase and proteins that keep your mouth moist, and is designed to protect your mouth from bacteria, known as Streptococcus mutans. Amylase breaks down starch food, and the digestive functions moisten food so food can be swallowed.
Saliva acts as a key line of defence to keep your enamel away from bacteria. Although, when bad bacteria penetrate inside the mouth, it can cling onto teeth and produce acid, a trigger for your enamel to recede and for a cavity to form. A cavity is a hole formed in the centre of the tooth.
Saliva minimizes germs and also lowers the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Tooth decay occurs when there is low mineralization of the enamel.
How Is Saliva Produced?
Saliva is produced from salivary glands. Although saliva is 98% water, it contains important substances such as enzymes that develop in and around the mouth to allow digestion of food, for simple swallowing and protection from infection.
The body produces about two to four pints of saliva a day. It is a complex fluid of the oral cavity which coats teeth with oral mucosa, comprising on mucinous substances (moisture) and antibacterial components. Saliva ensures the oral cavity is lubricated with immune properties that act as a barrier to fight off infection.
Issues Of Low Saliva
Without production of saliva, you’re introducing dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition that causes the gums and the tongue to induce swelling when the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. This is often the result of dehydration when you do not have enough fluids in the body.
Other causes of dry mouth can include:
- Lifestyle including smoking and consuming alcohol
- Side-effects of diseases, infections and certain medications
Food and Drink That Stimulate Saliva
With high-levels of saliva, you’re minimizing the risk of dry mouth. Consume the following to keep saliva production strong:
- Water – Drinking water frequently keeps the mouth moist and neutralizes acids forming in the body.
- Sugarless Chewing Gum – Chewing sugarless gum helps to stimulate saliva production where the saliva can last for up to one to two hours.
- Broths, Gravy and Soups – Eat moist foods such as this at a cool temperature. Ensure that these foods are contained in a meal.
- Avoid Dry Foods – Foods such as dry meat, dry fruits and dry snacks should only be consumed moderately or not consumed altogether.
The Key Benefits To Oral Health
There are many benefits of saliva production to your oral health to keep teeth protected from disease or infection:
- Acid Neutralizer – Saliva helps to neutralize acids from the food and drink we consume. This protects the soft tissue and teeth from decay.
- Cavity Protection – One of the most important benefits of saliva is protection from a cavity. Bacteria can yield acid that damages enamel causing holes in teeth (cavity). Saliva contains the essential property of calcium to help remineralize enamel.
- Healing Properties – If you accidentally bite your lip or you have sores and spots owing to oral cancer, saliva can help speed up healing to regenerate damaged tissue.
Saliva production is an essential property for a happy and healthy mouth. Read here to learn more about how dry mouth can cause cavities to form. If you’re experiencing dry mouth and need support, contact our help Docklands dentist team today.