The Valued Role of Saliva

Your spit does more than you think. The average person produces over 25,000 liters of saliva over the course of a lifetime! That’s enough spit to fill two swimming pools. You may not value your saliva in terms of your health, but it can actually plays some critical roles. Too little saliva (“dry mouth”) can be detrimental for your dental health, leaving you vulnerable to decay, bad breath and eating difficulties. Here are some ways that saliva contributes to both your oral health and overall health:

Digestion: Your spit aids in the initial stages of digestion by helping break down and dissolve food before you swallow.

Tasting: Proper moisture on your tongue allows your taste buds to remain active so that you can enjoy food flavors to their fullest.

Speaking and Eating: If you have ever experienced “cotton mouth,” then you understand how difficult it is to speak properly and chew your food if your mouth doesn’t have enough spit. Oral moisture is essential for eating and speaking.

Bad Breath Prevention: A dry mouth is a leading factor in patients with halitosis, or bad breath. Without proper amounts of saliva, bacteria is allowed to remain on the tongue and teeth, emitting foul sulfur compounds as it multiplies.

Cavity and Gum Disease Protection: Your saliva contains proteins and minerals that can safeguard your tooth enamel from harmful acids, bacteria and infection.

An Indicator of your Overall Health: Human saliva is 99.5% water. However, the remaining .5% of saliva’s makeup is gaining more and more attention. Recent research studies have found a positive link between certain bacteria in your saliva and both pancreatic cancer and stomach cancer. We may find that more medical conditions are tested with a sample of our spit.

Your spit is what allows you to remain comfortable and it naturally neutralizes acids and rinses away bacteria after you eat and drink. The next time you have extra saliva to swallow, be grateful for your body’s natural ability to protect your oral health. For more information on the role of saliva or how to treat dry mouth, contact Old Greenwich Dental Center.

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