Everyone is aware that they constantly produce saliva, but not many may understand the important role saliva plays in one’s overall oral health.
Saliva is the clear liquid found in the mouth that is produced twenty-four hours per day. It’s composed mainly of water and contains a few other chemicals. Saliva also contains proteins that control the large amount of microbes in the mouth. The slippery part of saliva forms from the salivary glands, which are located inside of each cheek on the bottom of the mouth. They’re also located beneath the jaw in the front of the mouth. Salivary glands produce about one to two liters of saliva into the mouth every day.
Saliva assists with wetting food and making it easier to swallow. For example, if one tried to eat a grilled cheese sandwich without saliva, it would be very difficult to consume. When saliva travels to the tongue, it allows us to fully experience our taste buds so that we can taste the difference between various foods and flavors. A dry tongue disables taste buds, which means all food would taste the same.
Saliva also assists with the digestive process. Before food reaches the stomach, saliva breaks it down while the food is being chewed in the mouth. Saliva is able to do this with the help of enzymes, which are special chemicals found inside of saliva. Chewing with saliva also helps the tongue easily push the food to the throat.
Saliva also constantly cleans the inside of the mouth by rinsing the teeth and ridding them of excess bacteria and leftover food particles. Those special enzymes found in saliva also help fight off infections that could develop in the mouth and heal wounds. Even though saliva aids in keeping the mouth clean, individuals must still brush twice daily and floss at least once daily to remove all of the bacteria that saliva wasn’t able to rid of.
When individuals experience dry mouth due to smoking, medications, or other health issues, cavities are more likely to develop, and the tongue will become sore and fissured.
Fortunately, those who experience dry mouth can alleviate their symptoms by trying a few treatment options. Sometimes dry mouth occurs due to certain medications, which means individuals can try having their doctor alter their medication to resolve the issue. There are also prescription or over-the-counter mouth rinses and moisturizers to keep the mouth lubricated that can be prescribed by a doctor or dentist. Certain mouth washes can also help, especially ones that contain xylitol.
At McBride Dental, we are dedicated to helping our patients obtain and maintain the healthy mouth they deserve. We offer various services to tailor to each of our clients’ needs, such as preventative care services, general dental services, gum disease treatment, and much more. If you are in the San Diego area and would like to schedule an appointment with us, contact our office today at 760-471-1003.