Whilst we all salivate at the thought of a delicious meal, most people give little thought to the role saliva plays in keeping our mouth healthy. Comprised mostly of water and produced by glands within the mouth, saliva has a number of key functions. Some of these include lubrication of the mouth, assisting in the digestive process and ensuring that teeth remain strong and healthy. A lack of saliva can indicate an underlying oral health concern, so if you experience a persistently dry mouth you should not hesitate to book an appointment with your dentist. In this blog post, we will be sharing some insight into the important role of saliva.
What Is Saliva Made Of?
Saliva is a naturally occurring fluid which is secreted by the salivary glands within the mouth. Water makes up around 98% of the composition of saliva, with traces of minerals, antimicrobials, electrolytes, enzymes, mucus and white blood cells making up the final 2%.
Saliva is always being produced, with most adults producing around 600ml per day. Production is most active during waking hours, particularly during eating and chewing.
The Benefits of Saliva
1. Acts as a Natural Lubricant
By coating the oral tissues, saliva helps to keep the mouth moist and comfortable. Sufficient saliva production will prevent food from getting stuck to the roof of your mouth or sides of your cheeks, and lubrication will also ensure your speech is clear.
2. Improves Taste of Food
Saliva helps to stimulate taste receptors whilst also helping to dissolve aroma and taste compounds. People with poor saliva production are known to experience a reduced ability to taste.
3. Assist in Digestion
The moisture content of saliva helps to soften food, allowing it to pass more efficiently from the mouth to the oesophagus. Saliva is rich in enzymes such as lipase and amylase, which serve to break down starches and make nutrients easier to absorb.
4. Maintain Tooth Enamel
Healthy saliva production ensures that the pH level within the mouth stays at healthy and stable levels. This will help to neutralise acid attacks, which damage the enamel and are a leading cause of tooth decay. The minerals contained within saliva also help to support the mineralisation process, which can reharden tooth enamel.
5. Improves Oral Health
In addition to clearing away stuck food particles and neutralizing plaque acids, saliva also has anti-bacterial properties to kill germs and prevent the development of bad breath. It provides additional protection against tooth decay and gum disease, and any wounds within the oral cavity will also heal quicker if an adequate supply of saliva is present.
What to Do if Your Mouth is Dry
A lack of saliva (xerostomia) can be uncomfortable, and it’s important to determine the reason behind it. In some cases it may be due to anxiety or stress, but prescription medication and treatments can also impair saliva production.
You should visit your dentist if you have an ongoing issue with a lack of saliva. To keep your mouth moist and comfortable and promote saliva production, you can also try the following:
- Drink at least 2 litres of water per day
- Maintain a nutritious diet
- Chew sugar-free gum
- Ask your dentist about artificial saliva substitutes
- Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice daily, and flossing once daily
Issues with Dry Mouth or Lack of Saliva? Visit Sydney Park Dental Today
Having a healthy flow of saliva is important for your oral health and wellbeing. If you have any concerns about dry mouth, or if you are due for a check-up, please book an appointment at Sydney Park Dental today.