Why Saliva is Important to Your Dental Health

June 27, 2018

water in a glassSaliva Appreciation Day is not a government holiday, but at South Springs Dental Group, we believe it should be! Most people just view their spit as a repulsive unmentionable, but this stuff is a real workhorse that does a lot for your mouth.

The health of your teeth, gums, and tongue are all dependent on healthy saliva production, so take the time to reward your saliva with some genuine appreciation!

Salivary Glands Are the Unsung Heros of the Mouth

Every time you chew, your saliva glands spring into action. Chew more vigorously, and you will produce more saliva. And this is a good thing! Increased saliva flow results in:

  • Nutrients efficiently reaching your teeth in order to fight gum disease, protect enamel, and prevent decay
  • Fresher breath
  • Fewer germs in your mouth
  • Easier swallowing
  • Making it easier for you to chew and taste

Your mouth has six large salivary glands: one on each side of your cheek, two at the bottom of your mouth, and two between your front teeth and jaw bone. You also have countless smaller glands located throughout your mouth.

What Would Happen if You Didn’t Have Saliva?

Dry mouth is a common condition in which your body does not produce enough saliva. This can be a side effect of certain medications and a symptom of certain diseases.

If your mouth is too dry, it can cause painful swelling in your tongue and cheeks. It could also result in bad breath, and make it hard for you to taste your food.

Besides disease and taking certain drugs, some other causes of dry mouth include:

  • Dehydration
  • Chemo or radiation therapy
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Blockage or structural issues with salivary ducts

If you take one or more of the following drugs, they could be causing dry mouth:

  • Anxiety medications
  • Pain medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Allergy drugs like Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), and Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • Appetite suppressants
  • Blood pressure pills
  • Diuretics (water pills)

If you are starting a new medication, it’s a good idea to talk to a pharmacist or doctor about the possible side effects you can expect.

Ways to Treat Dry Mouth

If you have dry mouth, there are options available for treating it at home. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. If that isn’t working, try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy.

If the problem doesn’t get any better, contact your dentist. There are certain treatments we can administer in our office to help with dry mouth.

Posted In: Dental Hygiene