The Important Role Saliva Plays in Oral Health

Stop for a moment and think about the factors that contribute to your oral health. You might think about your teeth and your gums, but have you ever given thought to the importance of your saliva? Your saliva is the unsung hero of your oral health. Its benefits are often overlooked unless we have too much saliva or too little. Fortunately, when you are in the dental office, your dentist is trained to evaluate the signs and symptoms of inadequate saliva. Identifying and treating salivary problems are essential to maintaining a long-lasting smile.

The clear fluid that moisturizes our mouths serves a surprising number of functions. Take a look at just how hard your saliva works for you:

  • It cleanses the oral cavity.
  • It helps to dissolve food and improve digestion.
  • It dilutes plaque and leftover food particles.
  • It moisturizes and lubricates the delicate oral surfaces.
  • It actually helps to bind chewed food together, preparing it to be swallowed.
  • It improves our taste perception, our chewing ability, and our ability to swallow.
  • Allows the lips, tongue, and cheeks to move across the teeth for smoother speaking.
  • It soothes and protects the teeth and the lining of the mouth.
  • It buffers (neutralizes) destructive acids.
  • It provides a natural antimicrobial defense.

For some of our most basic bodily functions such as swallowing and digestion, adequate salivary functioning is critical. However, a slight reduction in the quantity or quality of your saliva may not catch your attention. In fact, many patients become accustomed to lower levels of saliva or chronic dry mouth, and may be unaware of the dangers that it presents.

Thick or ropey saliva, decreased saliva, or saliva that is of poor quality can leave you at great risk for bad breath, periodontal disease, cavities, and oral irritations. There are several common health conditions and related medications that can affect your salivary output and quality.

For more information, contact our dental office in Bedford & Colleyville today to schedule an examination.