The most misunderstood component to our oral health system is not teeth, gums, and bone, but rather it is Saliva. It is one of the most crucial components to eating, chewing, and normal function. It is ignored when it is good, but it becomes front and center when it is diminished.
The Role and Impact of Saliva
Saliva is the watery substance that is secreted by glands in our neck and chin areas and it critical for normal function and health of the oral cavity. Most importantly, it is essential in helping keep the teeth clean as it helps move debris away from the teeth and gums.
During eating, we notice an increase in salivary flow as our body responds to the sensory stimulation of food. What we may not notice is a decrease in saliva that can rapidly cause a change in our oral health status.
Here are some interesting facts about saliva:
1) Your six salivary glands produce almost 2 liters of saliva per day
2) Saliva is required to taste food
3) Saliva has great properties in it that help speed up the healing process
Consequences of Reduced Saliva and Dry Mouth
While we take normal saliva flow for granted, people with reduced salivary flow know the terrible consequences that can occur when this happens.
When dry mouth persists, here are some of the consequences one might experience:
1) Increased cavities in teeth
2) Difficulty eating and tasting
3) Gum problems due to plaque accumulation
4) Difficulty sleeping as their parched mouth wakes them up
Reduced salivary flow can arise from medical conditions, chemotherapy and radiation, the medicines we take, and the normal aging process.
As your oral health provider, there are many things we can suggest and offer to help you but here are just a few quick ideas:
1) Sip water regularly
2) Use Biotene products
3) Use Xylitol containing products
4) Suck on sugar-free products to stimulate saliva flow
We are happy to discuss this or any other concerns you may have!
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