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Atkins & Anderson DDS Blog

21Jun

Functions of Saliva that Promote Oral Health

Saliva is one of those things we don’t really think about very much until it’s lacking. If you’ve ever experienced dry mouth, you know what we mean. When you get stressed or nervous before a big presentation, launching a new product, or asking someone out, many people describe the sensation of dry mouth. You may wonder what is wrong with your mouth and why you can’t swallow or form words. But a dry mouth is not just inconvenient—it’s a threat to our teeth and gums. Saliva is crucial to our mouth functioning correctly so that we can speak, eat, and drink normally. But it serves an even bigger purpose in keeping our mouths healthy.

What is Saliva?

Saliva is made mostly of water, but it also contains substances that help you digest your food and make your teeth strong. Your body makes an average of 2-4 pints of saliva every day. While there are hundreds of small salivary glands in your body, there are six major ones in your mouth where the majority of your saliva is produced. They are located in your cheeks, at the bottom of your mouth, and close to your front teeth near your jawbone. Saliva is made when you chew food and when you suck on hard candies, mints, or cough drops.

What is the Problem with Dry Mouth?

If you are not producing enough saliva and continually suffer from a dry mouth, you may experience discomfort that comes with swollen gums and tissue, or a swollen tongue. Not only is eating and drinking difficult, but a dry mouth is a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. This is what leads to bad breath, and why we often have bad breath in the morning—our bodies produce the smallest amount of saliva at night. No one likes having bad breath. (Or talking to someone with it!) However, the biggest issue with dry mouth is that it leads to a host of other dental problems.

Why is Saliva Important to Oral Health?

Saliva helps rid your mouth of germs and minimizes the opportunity for bacteria growth. After you eat, saliva washes food debris off your teeth which protects your teeth from decay and the formation of cavities. Saliva also slows down the potential for gum (periodontal) disease to develop. This is because saliva contains proteins and minerals that protect your tooth enamel. After you eat or drink, saliva dilutes sugars and neutralizes acid production which controls the formation of plaque. Amazingly, saliva is produced when we eat or drink to protect our teeth and gums from the very things we are eating and drinking!

Saliva is helpful and necessary for a healthy mouth. So, if you’re experiencing dry mouth on a regular basis, it’s time to schedule a dental appointment. We’ll help you determine the cause of your dry mouth and make suggestions to remedy the problem. Our team at Atkins and Anderson Dentistry is here to help you successfully take care of your teeth and gums and work to prevent cavities and gum disease from forming. Scheduling a cleaning regularly is the key to maintaining good oral health and hygiene. So, make your appointment for the whole family today.

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