07 Jun The Important Role Saliva Plays in Oral Health
We need saliva to continuously flush our mouth … it allows us to speak properly, process food and aid in digestion, and is needed to protect the hard and soft oral tissues of the mouth. If a dry mouth becomes a persistent problem, a visit to the dentist is needed to diagnose the reason and find a solution.
Saliva and Its Origin
Saliva is secreted from three paired major salivary glands; it consists primarily of water (99%). The remaining 1% is comprised of a variety of electrolytes and proteins.
Since the body is largely water, if the body becomes dehydrated saliva production may be reduced. There are many reasons for dehydration … medications taken (short or long term); injury or illness affecting the head or neck can impact salivary glands including treatment for this problem; exercise, especially in the heat … if you suffer from dehydration, the side effects can be debilitating for your oral and overall health.
How do you know if you’re producing sufficient saliva?
A dry mouth can lead to chronic bad breath; cracked lips; difficulty chewing, speaking, or swallowing; frequent sore throat … these are a few of the signals that can mean you lack sufficient saliva. Your dentist will also be able to see the signs.
Some of the overlaying factors that can result in a dry mouth include aging, tobacco use, illness and the medications taken to treat it, anxiety, depression, caffeine and alcohol consumption … there are many reasons for a dry mouth.
How can teeth be impacted?
Lack of saliva can mean serious complications for your oral health. Dental decay and gum disease are two major concerns. Since we rely on saliva to flush bacteria, it stands to reason that if bacteria is allowed to remain it has more time to promote the acids that result in cavities and periodontal problems.
You might increase saliva production by chewing sugar free gum, sucking on sugar free candy; you can stay sufficiently hydrated with water (soda, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages are not the appropriate beverages for hydration), and there are over the counter oral rinses designed to ease problems associated with a dry mouth.
Brush and floss daily; visit our dentist as recommended to prevent dental decay and gum disease. Do not allow a lack of saliva to negatively impact your dental health.