You probably don’t give much thought about the saliva in your mouth, but what you may not know is that sufficient saliva production is important for your overall oral health. When your dentist examines your mouth, they’ll check if you’re producing enough saliva, because it can mean the difference between good and poor oral health.
Benefits of saliva
Your mouth is the beginning of your digestive tract and saliva helps you taste and swallow, aides the food in getting to the stomach, and keeps your digestive system running smoothly.
Other benefits of saliva:
- Helps fight germs in your mouth
- Cleans your teeth
- Contains proteins and minerals that help prevent tooth decay and gum disease
- Helps prevent bad breath
Saliva and oral health
Believe it or not, your body produces anywhere from two to four pints of saliva each day. Your salivary glands increase the amount of saliva produced every time you chew or if you see something that looks delicious.
What happens if your body does not produce enough saliva? The following are some of the problems that can occur:
- Swollen tongue
- Dry mouth
- Higher risk of tooth decay and cavities
- The teeth and tongue start to stick
- Inability to speak clearly
Saliva and dry mouth
If your body is not producing enough saliva, you may have a condition called dry mouth. Dry mouth is usually not harmful to your health but can be annoying and uncomfortable. There are many reasons why your body may not produce an adequate amount of saliva including:
- Side effects from prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Treatments like radiation for oral cancers
- Diseases such as diabetes
The good news is that there are ways to help symptoms of dry mouth and can help you feel better.
How to alleviate dry mouth
Many of the treatments for dry mouth can be done through simple changes in your lifestyle. These include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Chewing sugar-free gum
- Sucking on sugar-free candies sweetened with xylitol
- Using specific toothpastes and mouthwashes made to help alleviate dry mouth and maintain the moisture content of your mouth.
- Sucking on ice cubes
- Limiting or avoiding alcohol
Saliva is important for good oral health
If you suspect your mouth is not producing enough saliva, speak to your dentist and together develop a plan to get your oral health back in shape and give you something to really smile about!