Let’s Talk About Saliva

Article lets talk saliva

When’s the last time you had a good talk about saliva? It’s probably not something brought up in everyday conversation but it’s actually a vital part of the overall health of your mouth.

What it does

Saliva is made mostly of water and it helps to break down food for your body. But saliva also does a lot of things for your mouth as a whole.

Some of the important things that saliva does include:

  • Keeping your mouth wet and comfortable
  • Helping you chew, taste, and swallow
  • Making it harder for bad breath to stick around
  • Providing proteins and minerals that keep your teeth healthy1

There are six main places in your mouth, called glands, which produce saliva. Plus there are hundreds of smaller places in your mouth that also help make it. That sounds like a lot of saliva. In fact, the average person makes between two and four pints a day. But that’s a good thing because our body really needs it.1

Without it

Saliva helps to wash away food from our teeth and stop tooth decay. Without it, our teeth would become soft, and chewing would be hard and painful. Then we couldn’t digest the food we need to live. All because of a lack of saliva.2

If you have chronic dry mouth, or cotton mouth, that’s an ongoing problem for you, tell you doctor. Saliva not only helps stop bad breath, strengthens your teeth, and helps you digest your food, lack of it can also be a sign of larger health problems.1,3,4

Testing it

Saliva is so important, scientists decided to study it closely to better understand what saliva can tell us about the rest of our body. It turns out that saliva can help in diagnosing cancer, gum disease, viral hepatitis, HIV, and other diseases.3

Dry mouth?

Certain medications can cause dry mouth. You can try several things to help make it better, including drinking plenty of water, chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy. Keeping them sugar-free is important because your saliva is helping to fight against cavities and sugar can cause cavities. So give your teeth and your saliva a break, and go with sugar-free.1

Saliva helps your teeth heal through a process called remineralization. That’s what keeps your teeth hard. Remineralization is one of the most important jobs that your saliva has. And it helps keep your teeth the strongest substance in your body.2

To learn more talk to your doctor, your dentist, or click on the links below.

1 WebMD, 2012: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/what-is-saliva

2 How Stuff Works, 2013 http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/oral-care/procedures/remineralization-of-teeth.htm

3 Mouth Healthy, 2014: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/saliva

4 Livestrong, 2013: http://www.livestrong.com/article/443531-how-does-the-salivary-gland-help-to-digest-food/