What Is Saliva?
The salivary glands in the mouth produce a clear, watery fluid called saliva. It has a significant impact on both dental health and the digestive process. It is mainly made up of water but contains enzymes, electrolytes, mucus, and antibacterial substances.
The salivary glands produce saliva and distribute it throughout the mouth and throat and then release it into the oral cavity through ducts. So, the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands are the three major pairs of salivary glands.
Saliva serves several different purposes. It aids in moistening and lubricating the food, making it simpler to chew, swallow, and begin the digestive process. It contains enzymes like amylase that start breaking down carbohydrates into simpler sugars. This initial breakdown of carbohydrates is critical for the overall digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body.
Why Is Saliva Important in Maintaining Good Oral Health?
Saliva is essential for maintaining good oral health. Here are some of the significant roles saliva plays in maintaining good oral health:
Moisturizing and Lubricating
Saliva keeps the mouth moist, which facilitates speaking, chewing, and swallowing. It lubricates the oral tissues, which reduces friction and irritation.
Saliva contains enzymes like amylase that start the digestion of carbohydrates. The digestive system’s further digestion and absorption of nutrients are aided by the enzymes’ initial breakdown of starches into simpler sugars.
Lysozyme and antibodies, two antibacterial components found in saliva, aid in the battle against oral infections. In order to limit the growth of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the mouth, these chemicals help lower the risk of gum disease and oral infections.
Mineralization and Remineralization
Calcium and phosphate, two minerals found in saliva, are crucial for remineralizing teeth—demineralization results from the mineral loss that occurs when acid is exposed to tooth enamel. Saliva assists in the natural remineralization process and preserves tooth strength by replenishing these minerals.
Cleansing and Debris Removal
Saliva helps remove food particles, debris, and bacteria from the oral cavity. It aids in removing plaque, a bacterial film that sticks to the teeth and gums. In addition to lowering the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, regular saliva flow also assists in preventing the accumulation of plaque.
Wound Healing and Tissue Repair
Saliva contains growth factors, proteins, and enzymes that stimulate wound healing and tissue repair in the mouth. Moreover, it promotes the recovery of minor injuries and irritations by soothing and protecting oral tissues.
Saliva’s various functions help maintain a healthy oral environment, prevent oral diseases, and promote oral health.
Dry Mouth: What Is it?
The condition of xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, is characterized by decreased saliva production. Various factors, including medications, certain medical conditions, nerve injury, dehydration, and aging, can bring it on. Dry mouth can cause discomfort and oral health complications. Speaking, eating, and swallowing become complicated when there isn’t enough saliva. Additional side effects include:
Dry Mouth Treatment
Treatment options for dry mouth are numerous. Firstly, addressing the underlying reason, such as modifying medication dosages or treating medical issues contributing to dry mouth, can be beneficial. It is critical to maintain proper hydration by drinking enough water. You can also increase saliva production by chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free candies. Although saliva replacements or oral moisturizers you can buy over the counter can help temporarily; in severe cases, prescribed medications to boost its production may be administered.
It’s essential to maintain proper oral hygiene, use fluoride toothpaste, and schedule routine dental visits to avoid oral health problems brought on by dry mouth. In addition, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and spicy or acidic foods can help reduce symptoms. Contact us at Smile Dental or book an appointment online if you live in Toronto and have any questions left!