Ask a Dentist

April 5, 2023

Q: Is Saliva Important?

Baby with saliva dropping at the side of mouth

Saliva is the fluid in your mouth that does many amazing things for your mouth and overall health. It’s derived from blood plasma and similar to blood, it builds and maintains the health of soft and hard tissues in your mouth and throat. When you don’t produce enough saliva, it can create several oral health problems like tooth decay and other oral infections. 

What Is Saliva Made Of?

Saliva is made up of 99 per cent water and one per cent other important compounds such as: 

  • Proteins in saliva work as the first line of defense in eliminating bad bacteria and help form a protective layer on your teeth.
  • Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electrical charge when dissolved in water. These minerals include potassium, calcium and magnesium, which helps strengthen your tooth enamel, and in turn helps reduce your risk of cavities.
  • Enzymes assist your body with the digestive process, breaking down food particles so it’s easier to chew.
  • Mucin aids in digestion. It helps you eat and swallow safely by keeping the mouth damp. 

Why Is Saliva Important?

Saliva is crucial because it:

  • Washes away food and debris from teeth and gums.
  • Moistens and breaks down food to ease swallowing and enhances the ability to taste.
  • Provides disease-fighting substances throughout your mouth to inhibit tooth decay and other infections.
  • Keeps the surface of your teeth strong by providing high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions.

Also, because it shares many properties with blood, it can be used to detect and diagnose oral diseases such as gum disease and oral cancer

Chewing is the most efficient way to stimulate salivary flow as it causes muscles to compress the salivary glands and release saliva. We suggest chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless hard candy to stimulate your salivary glands. Avoiding artificial sweeteners can be a difficult feat; however, products which contain xylitol are more natural and can even assist in fighting bacteria.  We have some products available in the Garden City office which stimulate salivary flow and help protect the teeth when you’re unable to produce enough saliva to do the job.

Because saliva is so important, you should consult your dentist if you’re suffering from dry mouth. Our dentists at Dental Image Therapy Centres can give you professional advice to increase your saliva flow as well as help prevent any serious problems from developing, like tooth decay. Schedule an appointment with one of our dentists today or visit us at our Winnipeg dental clinics located in Garden City Shopping Centre and St. Vital Centre. 

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