Saliva And Your Oral Health

What Is Saliva?

Saliva is a complex watery substance that is produced by salivary glands located in the mouth. Human saliva contains water, electrolytes, mucus, and enzymes which all plays a protective role in oral health.

Salivary Functions

  • Helps to keep your mouth moist
  • Aids in chewing, tasting and swallowing
  • Combats germs in the mouth and helps to prevent bad breath
  • Protects tooth enamel and prevents decay
  • Helps with digestion and the breakdown of food through enzymes
  • Enables speech by lubricating oral tissues

Effects Of Reduced Salivary Flow

Salivary flow can be affected by certain diseases, changes to the body through natural aging, and due to side effects of certain medications.

If enough salivary flow is not present, a variety of issues can occur. Dry mouth is the most common issue experienced by those with an insufficient salivary flow.Dry mouth may also be referred to as xerostomia.

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If dry mouth symptoms are left untreated, they cause the tongue, gums and other oral issues to feel uncomfortable and swollen. Bad bacteria thrives in dry mouth environments and will lead to bad breath.

Having inadequate salivary flow or dry mouth also increases the risk of developing decay and gum disease. Saliva plays a role in washing away leftover food particles from the teeth and in between the gums. If this action is not performed by saliva, the risk of developing cavities increases.

Reduced salivary flow can also affect how foods taste.

How Is Reduced Salivary Flow Treated?

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Dry mouth symptoms can be alleviated by trying the following tips:

Increase your consumption of water
Try to Chew sugar-free gum in order to stimulate saliva production
Suck on sugar-free candy to help with saliva production
If your dry mouth still persists, talk to your doctor and/or dentist. They will recommend artificial saliva substitutes that will help. Your doctor may also adjust your medication dosage or change the type of medication in order to reduce the side effects of the medication.

If you experience dry mouth symptoms regularly, do not ignore the symptoms as tooth decay, bad breath and gum disease will be easier to develop.

 

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