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Why Saliva is Important for Dental Health
Saliva and its importance is probably the least pressing issue in most people’s life. They probably do not even give it much thought. But, saliva plays a very important role in the mouth. Keep reading to find out why saliva is good for dental health.
Saliva is a liquid found in the mouth comprised of water, mucus, proteins, minerals, and amylase. The majority of the saliva found in the mouth is made in three main salivary glands. These are the submandibular, the sublingual and the parotid, while the remainder comes from minor glands, namely the labial, the lingual, the buccal and the Palatine. When the saliva is produced, some tiny ducts transport it to the mouth in small quantities at a time. The amount of saliva sent to the mouth increases when a person is about to or is eating a meal to aid in softening the food for digestive purposes.
Saliva plays two major roles in the body:
Speaking and eating assistance
Saliva helps to:
- Break down food for digestion (amylase)
- Soften food while chewing
- Lubricate oral tissues thereby enabling speech
- Enhance the taste of food
Protection of the oral and peri-oral tissues
Saliva helps to:
- Lubricate these tissues
- Repair the tissues
- Remineralise enamel with calcium and phosphates
- Dilute sugars after ingestion
- Neutralize acid production
In addition to the enamel, the teeth are covered by a thin layer of saliva. Within the saliva are antimycobacterial agents. These help to kill bacteria.
Saliva moves around the mouth. While it does this, it sweeps away microscopic bits of food or plaque which could potentially cause tooth decay.
What happens if there isn’t enough saliva in the mouth?
People whose mouths do not make enough saliva, suffer from a condition called xerostomia, popularly known as dry mouth. People with dry mouth are at a higher risk of gum disease, tooth decay, bacterial, yeast, fungal infections, and general discomfort when speaking or eating.
How to increase the saliva in the mouth
Saliva is very valuable and important to dental health, as a result, people with a dry mouth need to take these tips into consideration in order to increase the amount of saliva in the mouth:
Water makes up a huge percentage of saliva. Therefore increasing water intake should increase the amount of saliva in the mouth.
Checking one’s medication and its side effects will give clues to why the dry mouth developed in the first place. If the medication is the cause of dry mouth, consult the health care provider who prescribed it to see if there are any alternatives
Reduce sugar and alcohol intake because that can cause the mouth to be dry, which in turn leads to a lack of salivation. Swap those salty, acidic or spicy foods for soups broths, and softer-based foods.
Rinse the mouth four to six times daily with a warm salt water rinse or baking soda solution to remove bacteria. It would also be good to invest in artificial saliva sprays as these can increase the flow of saliva.
Consult with a dentist to check for any oral health issues which may contribute to or cause dry mouth. They will be able to thoroughly examine the mouth for any issues. If you want great oral health, then you must pay attention to your saliva. Schedule an appointment with your dentist today for an inspection and advise on how to keep your mouth as healthy as possible!
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