In a normal, healthy mouth, saliva is ever-present. This fluid is such a mainstay that we often don’t think much about it. We may become more acutely aware of saliva when a certain smell causes us to produce more of the fluid. We may also notice when the mouth lacks adequate moisture. Beyond lubricating the mouth, though, saliva plays an integral role in oral health.
- Saliva clears debris from food and beverages. The flow of saliva encourages microscopic debris to move to the back of the mouth where it can be swallowed rather than collecting and fermenting on teeth and gums.
- Saliva interacts with tasking molecules in food, which must be made more dissolvable to unmask a food’s flavors.
- Saliva is the beginning of the digestive process. When we chew, saliva binds food particles together into a slippery substance that can pass more easily through the esophagus. Amylase, an enzyme in saliva, helps to break down food particles to be more easily digestible.
- Saliva supports remineralization. Our teeth are demineralized and remineralized all throughout the day. This means we lose and gain mineral content. Saliva is vital to the process of delivering minerals to the teeth while also protecting against enamel breakdown under the effects of acids in the mouth.
How to Maintain Healthy Saliva
Healthy saliva flow is necessary for optimal oral health and general health. It behooves us to know how to maintain this flow. Some easy tactics for promoting good saliva flow include:
- Stay well-hydrated. We’re told to drink 8 glasses of water a day but, more recently, experts advise drinking half of one’s body weight in water a day. This personalizes hydration to each individual. A person who weighs 160 pounds, then, would consume 80 ounces of water a day. Additional ways to boost hydration are to eat water-rich foods like watermelon and celery.
- Address allergies. Whether seasonal or environmental, allergies can force a person to mouth-breathe. Soothing allergies with proper medication may tamper this habit and allow saliva flow to remain optimal.
- Chew sugarless gum. Chewing gum stimulates saliva flow and helps foster good enamel remineralization.
- Eat crunchy or dense foods. A variety of textures in foods can require us to chew a bit more. The more we chew, the more saliva we’re producing to break down food particles.
- Avoid traditional mouthwash if you have dry mouth. The alcohol in these products may degrade the oral microbiome and reduce saliva flow.
- If you have dry mouth, talk to your dentist about products that can help support moisture.
Saliva is integral to your oral health. So are routine dental checkups and cleanings! To schedule your visit to our NYC sedation dentistry office, contact us at (212) 974-8737.