Saliva is a crucial component of our oral health. Many times, we may overlook its importance. It plays a significant role in maintaining the health of our teeth and gums. Without saliva, we can experience severe dental impacts. If you are not producing enough saliva, you should talk to your dentist as soon as possible. While there are some minor issues that having a dry mouth can cause, you can develop significant dental concerns.
What is Saliva?
Saliva is a liquid or lubricant that our salivary glands produce. Most of our salivary glands are in our cheeks, under our tongues, and on the floor of our mouths. It is composed of water, enzymes, and other substances that help break down food and aid digestion. However, saliva is not just important for digestion. It also has several crucial functions in maintaining our oral health.
Protecting Teeth from Decay
Saliva plays a crucial role in protecting our teeth from decay. It contains elements of calcium and phosphate, which helps remineralize the enamel on our teeth. This remineralization process can help make your teeth stronger and more resistant to decay. Saliva also helps to neutralize the acid produced by bacteria in our mouths, which can erode our teeth and lead to decay. Without enough saliva, you are more likely to develop cavities than others.
Another significant benefit of saliva is that it contains antimicrobial agents that help to fight harmful bacteria. In fact, this bacteria can cause tooth decay and gum disease, leading to serious dental issues. These antimicrobial agents inhibit the growth of these bacteria in our mouths, keeping our teeth and gums healthy.
Lubricating the Mouth
Saliva helps to lubricate the mouth, making it easier to speak and swallow. Also, it helps prevent dry mouth, a condition in which you don’t produce enough saliva. Unfortunately, dry mouth is more than just an inconvenience or an uncomfortable issue. Dry mouth can lead to various oral health problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
As mentioned earlier, saliva plays a vital role in digestion. It helps to break down food, making it easier for our bodies to absorb nutrients. It also contains enzymes that help to break down carbohydrates and fats, preparing them for digestion in the stomach. Without saliva, it is possible to experience nutrient deficiencies. This is because saliva contains chemicals that kick-start your digestion. Without it, you may not be able to digest your food sufficiently.
Saliva contains growth factors that help to promote wound healing in the mouth. When we injure our mouths, saliva helps to speed up the healing process. For example, biting our tongues or the insides of our cheeks are common injuries. If this happens, the saliva can help heal the wound.