The Protective Effects Of Saliva
We probably don’t think about our saliva much, but it has a very important role to play.
Did you know that our bodies can produce up to four pints of saliva each day of our lives, or the equivalent of filling two swimming pools during our lifetime? Sounds revolting doesn’t it, but saliva actually has a very important role to play in keeping our body strong and healthy.
Saliva is full of acids and bacteria that help to break down our food whilst in our mouth and in the digestive tract. This helps us to utilise the nutrients better once it reaches our stomach (this is why you are told to chew your food properly). In addition to this, it also contains agents that help to protect our teeth from harmful bacteria and also contains minerals which help to strengthen the enamel on our teeth.
Cleansing the mouth
When we have eaten a meal, our mouths will contain small pieces of food which have become stuck in between our teeth. A healthy saliva flow will start to remove these and also help to protect against the acids and harmful bacteria that can eventually lead to tooth decay. As we have mentioned before, when insufficient saliva is produced, for example, after drinking alcohol, our mouths become dry and harmful bacteria will multiply and start to attack our gums, eventually leading to gingivitis or worse, periodontitis.
Dry mouth syndrome
Whilst it is true that drinking alcohol and smoking are both known causes of insufficient saliva production, it can also happen during certain illnesses, or as a side effect of medication. Older people too, often experience a dry mouth and may explain one of the reasons why gum disease is more common in older people.
For any of our Ipswich dental patients who do suffer from a dry mouth, you may wish to try the following, which many people find helps to stimulate saliva flow.
- Drink water frequently – Make sure that you are suitably hydrated. It is better to drink before you are thirsty than wait until you feel dry.
- Use sugar free sweets to suck on – Avoid sweets that contain sugar, for obvious reasons, but sucking on a flavoursome sweet should help to encourage more saliva.
- Chew sugar free gum – Again, make sure that it really is sugar free. The action of chewing will help to produce saliva. In addition to this, if you chew sugar free gum after a meal, it will help to remove both food debris and bacteria from difficult to reach places. Do not swallow the gum!
Whether you suffer from a dry mouth or not, but especially if you do, make sure to clean and floss your teeth well each day, and ensure that you see both the dentist and hygienist at the Foxhall Dental Practice at least every six months. We will monitor your teeth and gums and provide treatments, such as a scale and polish, to help make sure that they remain in good health.
You can book your appointment at our Ipswich dental surgery on 01473 258396.