Healthy saliva helps to fight tooth decay

Have you ever tried to eat a Weet-Bix without milk? Or a mouth full of Jatz? It isn’t until we try to consume something very dry that we pay much attention to our saliva. But it’s role isn’t just to make our food easier to swallow.

Without saliva, eating would be very difficult. As well as providing lubrication, saliva has enzymes that kick off the process of digestion. But this is not its only function. In fact, it is more important for your oral health than you think.

What else can it do?

Saliva also has a very important “cleaning” role. It helps to wash out and remove particles of food or other things from your teeth and gums. It also has antibacterial substances (IgA and Lysosyme), which help to fight the bacteria that are responsible for forming the dental plaque. It can even aid in wound healing!

Saliva also has an important role in the maintenance of the teeth. The bacteria that form the dental plaque produce a lot of acids, and when this acid begins to dissolve enamel the tooth decay process kicks off. Saliva neutralises this acid, and the minerals that are present in it, such as calcium phosphate, start to heal “soft spots” on the teeth. This process called remineralisation is also able to reverse cavities at the beginning stages.

Is it quality, or quantity that is important?

Although saliva is amazingly helpful to keep your mouth healthy, you need enough for it to do its job. There are several diseases and other conditions that can cause a dry mouth. Some examples are diabetes, dehydration and HIV. Smoking or using medications such as antidepressants and anxiety drugs can also cause dry mouth.

One important way to keep the right amount of saliva and its quality is to stay hydrated. A healthy diet is also very important. Because saliva production can be stimulated by chewing, you can also chew sugar-free gum to produce more of it. If the dry mouth persists, it’s really important to find out why by scheduling a dental consultation.

While good quality saliva is important, we can’t rely on it to do all the work. That’s why brushing and flossing, and maintaining a healthy diet are still essential for life long oral health.

Saliva is a very important part of oral health. Saliva help to fight tooth decay, through natural antibacterial action and remineralisation.

If you are concerned about your oral saliva or dental health book a consultation with Dr Kate Amos or Dr Sam Rosehill at Ethical Dental on 6652 3185 or book online.


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