When we think of our smiles we don’t typically consider the saliva production in our mouths. But a healthy smile begins with saliva, and not just a healthy set of teeth and gums. This clear, watery liquid is produced by the glands in the mouth, called salivary glands. These glands secrete the liquid that travels to the mouth through tubes called salivary ducts. Saliva is composed of electrolytes, enzymes, mucus, glycoproteins, and antibacterial compounds.
What Does Saliva Do?
Saliva keeps teeth healthy and strong by coating them in calcium and phosphorous and other minerals that are good for them. Not only does it dilute the corrosive acids in the mouth that come from sugary and starchy foods and beverages, it also washes away oral debris like food particles. In addition, saliva has antibacterial substances in it that helps fight oral bacteria and disease.
Why Do You Need Saliva?
Saliva is important because it removes harmful bacteria in your mouth that otherwise builds up into plaque. Plaque is harmful because it releases toxins from bacteria that erode tooth enamel, leaving you at risk for cavities. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate which work to neutralize the acid.
Saliva works with fluoride too, so if you drink water with fluoride in it, or use fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash, it remains in the saliva, protecting enamel. This is also known as remineralization.
Remineralization works best with a balance comprised of saliva production, good daily oral habits (brushing and flossing thoroughly each day) and regular dental cleanings to keep teeth and gums healthy and strong. To maintain healthy saliva production, rehydrate with plenty of water for a healthy smile!
Our dedicated dentists, Drs. Cheryl Cooper, Theron Nebeker, and Ken Waddell are happy to help keep you smiling. If it is time for your next dental cleaning, you can reach our Smiles Dental team in Salem, Oregon by calling 503.877.1844 today.