Did you know that saliva helps your teeth stay healthy and bright? Did you know that saliva heals? Many people don’t realize the benefits of a lot of saliva. Dry mouth isn’t just an uncomfortable dental issue; a lack of saliva actually endangers your beautiful smile. Saliva prevents tooth decay and gum disease and it helps to digest foods.
Animals instinctively know the benefits of saliva
Have you ever told your dog to stop licking at a wound they might have gotten? Animals clean their wounds by licking them and research indicates that their saliva has healing properties.
Because it contains calcium and phosphates, saliva can help remineralize enamel and as a result helping preventing cavities from taking hold so easily. But that is not all saliva can do. Research has shown that a particular protein found in saliva, the protein secretory leukocyte inhibitor (SLPI), helps heal wounds. Researchers applied SLPI topically to skin wounds and found that tissue destruction was reversed and healing time decreased. The findings were published in The Journal of the American Dental Association. According to other research there are other beneficial antibacterial agents in human saliva including:
- Immunoglobulin A: A neutralizing antibody that prevents pathogens penetrating the epithelial surfaces.
- Lactoferrin: a component of our immune systems, it works as a fungicide and bateriocide.
- Lysozymes: These enzymes in saliva help destroy the cell walls of gram-positive bacteria.
- Peroxidases: Also help destroy gram-positive bacteria.
- Nitrate compounds: Inhibit bacterial growth.
Promoting saliva flow
Chewing gums and other sugar free candies actually stimulate the flow from salivary glands. As the saliva flow increases, so do all of the benefits. Consider chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol or drinking fluoridated toothpastes.
Fresh Breath and Clean Teeth
A low saliva flow can be one of the many causes of foul breath. Saliva acts a natural cleanser, removing harmful bacteria and food particles from your mouth. This not only aids in the prevention of tooth decay, but also keeps your breath naturally fresh. Without the benefit of saliva, your smile is susceptible to decay and infection.
Effects of Dry Mouth
Some populations tend to be more immune to cavities than others. This resistance is lost or limited when they loose their saliva flow. When a patient suffers from dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, they are missing the most important benefits of saliva. The harmful bacteria in the mouth can then flourish and food particles can remain wedged between their teeth. Bacteria break down these particles, releasing a foul odor and increasing the presence of oral acids. Over time, oral acids weaken tooth enamel. Soon, your teeth become vulnerable to tooth decay.
Tips for Treating Dry Mouth
Several factors can cause dry mouth. In some cases, certain medications can dry up saliva. If this occurs, talk to your doctor immediately. Drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee or soda, can also lead to dry mouth. To promote the production of of saliva, one tip is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and cut back on caffeine products. In addition, chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production and the sugar-free component helps protect your smile. For some patients, Dr. Fondriest may recommend a saliva substitute. Artificial saliva usually comes in an aerosol and liquid form and is available over the counter at most pharmacies.
Learn more about the many Benefits of Saliva
Are you suffering from dry mouth? Talk to Dr. Fondriest today! We offer patients the latest in innovative restorative and cosmetic dental procedures. Call your Lake Forest cosmetic dentist at 847-234-0517.