When you think about oral health, you probably think about your gums and teeth. After all,  Americans spent $1.6 billion on toothpaste in 1998. The survey also concluded that Americans spent $600 million on mouthwash in 1998. We are serious about our oral hygiene practice!

So, when you consider your dental well being, do you think about saliva? Most people don’t think about the role saliva plays in dental care, and how important it is for maintaining excellent oral health. It’s true! Saliva is a necessary component to prevent tooth decay. It removes bacteria based on germs and yeast and causes diseases and infections.

Older adults are not the only ones who suffer from gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that “42% of children 2 to 11 have had dental caries in their primary teeth.” This means that nearly half of children ages 2 – 11 are suffering from cavities.

Saliva is produced by your salivary gland and it consists of 99.5% water. Big surprise, right? So, what else is .5%? Believe it or not, the small part of the saliva produces several components including electrolytes, mucous membranes, glycoproteins, enzymes, and antibiotics. Now, you know that saliva is the first step in the digestion process. It helps to lubricate the food, which helps to chew and swallow. Saliva also enhances your taste, not to mention your motor functions, which helps you to talk.

From a dental perspective, saliva helps protect teeth by the breakdown of food particles that lodged in and around the tooth. In addition, saliva also remineralizes your teeth, using calcium and phosphate. If you stimulate salivary glands by chewing sugar-free gum, then the saliva actually produces more good stuff in it and is more effective in buffering that bacteria and with help of it teeth gets remineralize.

So, what will happen if salts fall in production? It generates less saliva, more risk of damage. It makes eating and talking difficult. Some medicines and conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome can cause salivary deficiencies, which may adversely affect your oral health. Saliva reduction is called xerostomia, or dry mouth. Due to aging or hormone, dry mouth also occurs.

If your mouth is dry, schedule an appointment with your dentist, your dentist diagnoses and get you treated. Remember, saliva is an important part of your oral health.

((How much money did Americans spend on toothpaste in 1998. (1999, September 19). Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-09-19/features/9909190090_1_toothpaste-information-resources-mouthwash))

((Dental caries (tooth decay) in children (age 2 to 11). (2011, March 25). Retrieved from https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/DentalCaries/DentalCariesChildren2to11.htm))

((This review discusses the role of salivary factors on the development of dental erosion. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3881791/))

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