The Importance of Saliva for Oral Health

Did you know that your saliva impacts your health every second of every day? Balanced saliva levels promote good oral health and help prevent infection, bad breath, and tooth or denture damage. Learn more about saliva’s critical role in keeping your teeth and mouth healthy.

What Is Saliva?

Saliva is mostly water and contains electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds, and enzymes, including amylase, which breaks down starches to begin the digestive process.

Where Does Saliva Come From?

Humans have six major salivary glands located inside each cheek, at the bottom of the mouth, near the front teeth, and near the jawbone. There are also hundreds of minor salivary glands throughout your mouth. Saliva is naturally triggered by chewing; during this process, your salivary glands compress and produce saliva. The more you chew, the more saliva you produce. Sucking on hard foods or objects also triggers saliva production.

How Does Saliva Help Your Teeth?

Saliva forms a protective layer around your teeth that keeps harmful microorganisms at bay. It also contains antimicrobial agents, which kill bacteria and prevent them from spreading or causing infection. Saliva travels through the mouth, sweeping away food particles and cleaning the teeth after eating or drinking.

Minerals in saliva also help repair tooth enamel and reduce the mouth’s acidity. The presence of the enzyme amylase speeds up the process of starch digestion in the mouth, allowing you to consume food more efficiently. Moisture also helps you comfortably chew and swallow your food.

What Happens if You Don’t Have Enough Saliva?

When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, you can experience dry mouth. It may not sound like a big deal, but continuous dry mouth can cause major oral health problems. Failure to produce enough saliva allows germs and bacteria to thrive inside the mouth, leading to bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, infections, and decreased taste.

Schedule a Dental Exam

If you are experiencing chronic dry mouth, you should schedule an in-office exam with a dentist to determine the cause. Dry mouth can be caused by dehydration, diseases, medications, blockages of the salivary ducts, or issues related to the salivary glands. Call or visit our website to schedule an appointment with a Davie dentist, Plantation dentist, or Tamarac dentist.