According to an article in The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, saliva is made up of 99% water with the other 1% containing a variety of electrolytes and proteins. The amount of saliva produced within a healthy mouth can range from 1 to 1.5 liters a day. More than just a moisturizer for the mouth, saliva plays an integral role in dental health.
Saliva provides a slight slippery coating to our teeth, which helps to shield our teeth from harmful bacteria.
Our teeth are constantly going through the process of demineralization and remineralization. Demineralization occurs when cavity-causing bacteria outnumber healthy bacteria inside the mouth and begin to eat away at tooth enamel. These harmful bacteria feed off of the sugars and starches that we consume throughout our day. Saliva contains minerals and nutrients that help restore teeth to a healthy state.
Saliva irrigates and cleans the mouth by diluting sugars and washing away food particles and bacterial debris.
One of the most important roles of saliva is to maintain a healthy pH balance in the mouth, thereby neutralizing an acidic environment in which harmful bacteria feed.
Maintaining healthy saliva levels is an essential component of oral health. The amount of saliva produced as well as its composition contribute to our overall dental health and how many cavities we may acquire during our lifetimes.
Here are some steps that you can take on your own to help ensure your saliva is working hard to keep your teeth healthy:
- Drink plenty of water. Drinking water increases the amount of saliva produced. Even slight dehydration can cause production to decrease.
- Chew sugarless gum. Some studies show an increase of salivary flow when chewing sugarless gum.
- Consume sugary snacks sparingly. Consuming sugar on a limited basis, and never after nighttime brushings, can help keep our teeth coated in mineral-repairing saliva rather than sugar-fed plaque.
- Limit consumption of high acidic drinks. High acidic beverages include soft drinks, fruit juices, and energy drinks.
To find out more about maintaining healthy saliva levels or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!