What Role Does Saliva Play in Your Oral Health

Aside from stimulating our taste buds, saliva also plays a crucial role in maintaining our oral health.

The average person produces around 0.5 to 1.5 liters of saliva every day. Most people pay saliva no mind because it’s just a colorless liquid found in our mouth. However, all our favorite meals would be bland or tasteless without saliva to activate our taste buds. Not to mention the difficulty we’d have chewing and swallowing our food.

Saliva is essential for eating and aids in digestion, but does it impact our oral health? Join us today as we look into the role saliva plays in our oral health.

What Is Saliva?

Saliva is a mixture of proteins, mucus, electrolytes, antibacterial compounds, and minerals with a water base. Saliva is 89% water, and the remaining 2% consists of the substance we’ve just mentioned. Hundreds of salivary glands in the mouth, tongue, nose, and lips produce saliva.

Salivary glands break down into two types, minor and major salivary glands. The latter handles the bulk of the saliva load, producing up to 90% of your saliva.

The Function of Saliva

Aside from stimulating our taste buds, saliva also plays a crucial role in maintaining our oral health. Some functions of saliva include:

– Cleanses the Mouth

Saliva helps keep the mouth clean by washing away food debris left after eating. It also does the same for dead epithelial cells and foreign substances. Saliva also contains an antibacterial substance known as lysozyme. This helps eliminate certain bacteria that would otherwise be detrimental to the body. This includes bacteria that cause dental carries and even fever-causing bacteria.

– Protects Oral Tissues

Saliva plays the crucial role of protecting oral and peri-oral tissues found in the mouth. They do this by acting as a buffer that shields the tissue from acid that bacteria produce. It also lubricates food in the mouth to prevent it from scaring oral tissues and allowing easy digestion.

Aside from the above, some other functions of saliva include:

  • Diluting sugar found in drinks and food
  • Repairing damaged oral tissue
  • Reconstructing enamel with phosphates and calcium

These are some of the protection roles that saliva plays. Conversely, inadequate saliva production could spell trouble for your oral health. That’s why oral conditions like dry mouth are nothing to smile about, literally.

The Link Between Saliva and Dental Caries

PH imbalance in the mouth is the primary cause of demineralization of the teeth, leading to dental caries. Bacteria in the mouth produce acid every time they consume sugar and other fermentable carbs. The acid lowers PH in the mouth and leads to the demineralization of teeth, hence dental caries.

Saliva bicarbonate in the saliva helps neutralize the acid to prevent teeth demineralization. Thus, it stands on the frontline in the battle against cavities.

Saliva Protects Your Teeth

Saliva plays a crucial role in protecting your teeth, but saliva alone isn’t enough. It would be best if you embraced proper oral habits to keep dental issues at bay. Contact The Dental Anesthesia Center today in case of any cavities or other dental problems. We’ll help you sort it out.

Call Us Today

The Only Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologist in Missouri, including the St. Louis Metro Area.

Call (314) 862-7844
Updated: August 31, 2023

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