Have you ever wondered, why is saliva important? Or its function?
Saliva plays a vital role in oral health. Saliva is a watery substance from the salivary glands that contain 98% of water and a combination of enzymes, minerals, and electrolytes. It breaks down the starches and the fats from the foods we consume into smaller particles, making them easier enough to digest. Saliva also coats the mucous membrane in our mouth to protect from the possible exposure to eating, chewing, and swallowing. Now, let’s answer the question: why is saliva important for a healthy mouth?
The digestion process begins way before the food enters our mouth. The smell from the food triggers the salivary glands to produce saliva to aid with digestion. Saliva then moisten the food and form a bolus, a ball-like mixture with the food for easier swallowing. Saliva contains an enzyme called ptyalin, which breaks down the digestive starches into maltose and dextrin. It also contains another digestive enzyme called lipase to help with fat digestion. Once the chemical properties from the food are mixed in with saliva, the receptors then recognize the food.
Prevent bad breath
Bad breath can cause an embarrassing situation. It happens when the saliva decreases. Dry mouth is a sign of low levels of saliva in the mouth. Saliva neutralizes the plaque acids that accumulate after eating and drinking by coating the teeth and dissolving the necessary minerals, causing bad breath and decaying of teeth over time. Saliva decreases while sleeping at night, and hence the term morning breath. It is recommended not to stay hungry for an extended amount of time to prevent bad breath and continue to produce more saliva from eating. Chewing sugar-free gum can also help with salivary glands to secrete more saliva. Saliva cleans the mouth by washing away the leftover food debris and fights off with any remaining bacterias.
In a healthy mouth, saliva balances the pH and neutralizes the acidity. When the plaque’s pH level is low, especially after eating carbohydrates and sugar, tooth enamel starts to dissolve by its acidity. But, when the pH level is higher, the minerals present in saliva repair any damages to the tooth enamel. Therefore, it is crucial to stimulate the salivary glands to produce more saliva to wash away any bacteria. Likewise, calcium, phosphorus, fluoride, and other minerals found in the saliva make teeth healthy and resistant to decays.
Practicing good dental hygiene is crucial to maintain a fresh mouth and healthy teeth. Brushing and flossing should be done twice a day for good oral health, and so is visiting a dentist twice a year. If you notice any problem with your saliva, dry mouth, or bad breath, don’t delay checking with your dentist.
At Mountain View Dental, our expert dentists, friendly professionals, and comfortable office settings will always leave you with nothing but healthy teeth and a big smile on your face. Should you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (385) 324-3557 to schedule an appointment.