Drool, slobber, spittle: saliva and why it matters


Why is saliva important?

Saliva in the mouth is an important part of the digestion
process. It is one of the first methods of breaking down foods. Because saliva
makes foods softer, it aids in the swallowing process by making it easier for
your tongue to push chewed food backwards. Saliva is also necessary because it
keeps your mouth moist. This moisture it creates is extremely important for
oral health since it works to fight against germs which stick to teeth and
cause cavities or stick to the tongue and cause bad breath. 


How is saliva made?

The glands that make saliva are known as salivary glands.
Six of these salivary glands are considered major glands which work to make a
large portion of saliva. These glands can be found within your cheeks and
underneath the tongue. The major glands get help from hundreds of minor glands
too – everyone needs a little help every now and then!


How can you produce more saliva?

The amount of saliva produced varies in every mouth. Some
people produce more saliva than others. For example, a person taking a large
number of medications may suffer from dry mouth, medically known as xerostomia,
as a side effect of their medications. Dry mouth may also be caused by a
problems with the salivary ducts themselves or from lifestyle habits, such as
smoking cigarettes.


If you feel like your mouth is constantly dry due to lack of
saliva, here are some ways we recommend to combat too little saliva:

Hydrate – drinking plenty of water helps to keep
your mouth wet

Chew sugar free gum – the act of chewing helps
stimulate salivary glands to produce more saliva.

Talk to Dr. Monteiro! – dentists are able
to recommend or prescribe mouth rinses that help increase the amount of saliva.
Dentists can also prescribe special toothpastes with extra fluoride that help
protect your teeth when saliva isn’t working as it should


What if you already make too much saliva?

What if you are someone who makes too much saliva? Your body
is able to handle the extra saliva by swallowing more often. This usually isn’t
a concern but can become a problem for patients with certain diseases and
health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or intellectual disabilities,
that may cause them to have trouble swallowing.


Remember! germs thrive in dry environments – keep your mouth
moist to prevent the accumulation of bad bacteria that can harm your teeth, gums,
and tongue. Schedule an appointment at River Oaks Dental if you think you are
not making enough saliva and it’s impacting your oral health. Dr. Monteiro can
help find ways to overcome this and restore your oral health.

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