Why is Saliva Important for Dental Health?

June 23, 2017

No matter how much it grosses you out, appreciate spit! This fluid kickstarts the digestion process and is a necessary component in multiple areas of dental health. If your teeth and gums are healthy, you owe it in part to your saliva.

At Hampden Dental Group, we think saliva gets a bad rap. We are taking this opportunity to shed some light on all the functions our saliva takes care of for us.

How Your Mouth Produces Saliva

As you chew, six main salivary glands and 100’s of smaller ones, produce saliva. As chewing grows more vigorous, more saliva is produced.

The six major glands are housed at the bottom of your mouth, between your front teeth and jaw bone, and at either side of your cheeks. Here are a few of the functions those glands serve:

  • Helps you swallow
  • Helps you chew and taste your food
  • Fights germs and prevents bad breath
  • Delivers nutrients to your teeth that protect your enamel, prevent decay, and fight gum disease

How Does Saliva Help You?

When your body doesn’t produce adequate amounts of saliva, sometimes referred to as dry mouth, this can be a detriment to your oral health.

Not only can dry mouth result in dry, swollen gums and tongue, but it can cause bad breath. Those who suffer from bad breath often report that they are unable to taste their food the way they used to.

Some common causes of dry mouth include:

  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Blockage or structural issue with your salivary ducts
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Dehydration

Dry mouth is a common symptom of many diseases and side effect of the following medications:

  • Anxiety medications
  • Allergy drugs like Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), and Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Blood pressure pills
  • Pain medication
  • Appetite suppressants

Before you begin a new medication, check with your doctor about the potential side effects.

Treating Dry Mouth

A long-term treatment to dry mouth is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. For a quick fix, try sucking on sugar free candy or chewing sugar free gum.

If your problem still persists, contact your dentist. They may be able to offer other remedies to aid your dry mouth.