Our bodies are made up of many parts, some of which we never really consider. Saliva is probably one substance in your body that you rarely think about unless you are experiencing dry mouth or drooled while sleeping. It may come as a surprise to hear that saliva plays a particularly important and necessary role in our mouths and bodies.
Here’s a fun fact for you: The average person produces two to four pints of saliva per day—that’s almost half a gallon a day! Continue reading to learn why saliva is important for our mouths and bodies.
Benefits of Saliva
Saliva is mostly made up of water, but it also contains proteins, mucus, electrolytes, minerals, antibacterial compounds, and enzymes that support oral and overall health.
People who have experienced dry mouth understand a small part of why saliva is important. A moist mouth is more comfortable. The three major salivary glands are located inside the cheeks, under the tongue, and near the jawbone. These glands secrete saliva into the oral cavity through tiny ducts. They constantly produce saliva but are especially productive when we think about, smell, eat, and drink foods and beverages.
Patients who frequently suffer from dry mouth, a condition called xerostomia, may benefit from these home remedies and treatments:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Chew sugar-free gum
- Ask your dentist about artificial saliva
- Avoid acidic, spicy, and salty foods that dry out the mouth
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol for the same reason
- Rinse with a baking soda mouthwash 4-6 times per day
Better Oral Health
Sugar-filled and starchy foods turn into enamel-eating acid in our mouths. While many people do experience significant consequences as a result of this, saliva helps neutralize that acid so the effects aren’t so dire. When the salivary glands secrete, the saliva (which contains calcium, fluoride, and other minerals) washes over our teeth and repairs the enamel through remineralization. As a result, patients who produce enough saliva develop fewer cavities and are less likely to have gum disease.
Additionally, patients avoid the negative consequences that accompany decay and disease, such as:
- Dental pain
- Smelly breath
- Loose teeth
- Tooth movement
Without saliva, food wouldn’t be a suitable substance for the stomach. Though the teeth and tongue break up the food, the amylase enzyme in saliva makes it easier to digest. A healthy digestive system means a stronger immune system, healthier hair, clearer skin, and higher energy.
Better Overall Health
In addition to improved digestion, and as a result of better oral health, healthy saliva production boosts overall health.
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition that can enter the bloodstream and spread to other areas of the body. It has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and premature birth.
Our Rush Springs Dentist
Dr. Matthew L. Bridges at Chisholm Trail Smile Center is passionate about educating patients on all things related to the mouth because he knows it’s one of the best ways to ensure patients achieve optimal oral health!
For more than 20 years, Dr. Bridges has helped patients of all ages avoid cavities, gum disease, and many other oral health problems through education and preventive dentistry. To learn more about our practice or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Bridges, call (580) 255-4880 today.