When considering oral health, the condition of the teeth, gums, and tongue are usually what pops into your head. Saliva serves an important oral function, but few consider it when they think about overall dental health. Many people are unaware that saliva not only supports the health of the mouth, but also the entire body.
What is the Purpose of Saliva?
The main purpose of saliva is to protect the tissues and mucus membranes in your mouth from becoming dry, cracked, and uncomfortable. Saliva keeps your teeth and tongue lubricated. Saliva is also a major component in the process of digestion, making food and beverages easier to chew and swallow. Saliva also maintains the pH balance of your mouth so that acidity remains low. Too much acid in the mouth may cause problems with your teeth. For example, acid erosion can damage the tooth enamel, which causes cavities.
Where Does Saliva Come From?
As humans, we produce about a pint or more of saliva per day. That’s about the size of a small tub of ice cream! The majority of our saliva comes from three glands: the parotid, a pair of glands that are located in front of the ears, the submandibular, which are located in the lower jaw, and the sublingual, which are stationed under the tongue. Saliva is 98% water, and the remaining two percent are made up of ingredients such as proteins, antioxidants and electrolytes. Saliva floods our mouth with these natural nutrients so that our teeth and gums remain strong.
What Happens When Saliva Production is Low?
Saliva is our body’s natural tool against the bacteria that causes tooth decay. However, as we grow older, our salivary glands tend to become less efficient, leaving our mouths susceptible to harming bacteria. Along with age, there are diseases and medications that can cause reduced saliva production, leaving the mouth dry, cracked, and uncomfortable. If you are experiencing dry-mouth symptoms, you should visit your Pella dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Allen.
Call Us Today for a Consultation
Dr. Jeffrey Allen provides comfortable dental care to patients of all ages. Call (641) 628-1121 today to schedule a checkup and cleaning, cosmetic consultation, or second-opinion visit. We are located on the west side of the historic town square in Pella, IA. Please see the map for directions.