You probably don’t think much about it, it’s not something that comes up in general conversation, but the saliva in your mouth is essential to your oral health as well as to your digestive system.

Dental plaque is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease. It forms when the sugars and acids in the foods that we eat mix with the harmful bacteria that live in our mouths. If this bacterial plaque is left to build upon the teeth it will destroy the minerals that make our tooth enamel strong enough to resist disease. Saliva is nature’s way of getting rid of the bacteria before it can do serious damage. As it works to wash away the plaque the saliva replenishes the minerals that have been lost.

A constant flow of saliva is necessary to keep our mouths moist, enable us to chew efficiently, speak clearly and enjoy the flavors of our favorite foods. The salivary glands typically produce 2-4 pints of saliva in a day’s time, but amounts can vary from person to person. If the natural flow of saliva is decreased, however, it could bring about a condition known to dentists as xerostomia or “dry mouth.”

A dry mouth is a breeding ground for the germs that cause bad breath or gum disease. Symptoms can include abnormal thirst, cracked lips or mouth sores. Certain medications can encourage dry mouth or it could be a side effect of another health issue, a professional diagnosis will help to pinpoint the source of your symptoms. See your dentist asap.

There are some things that you can do to try to increase the flow of your saliva. Eat the foods that are known to stimulate saliva e.g., apples, celery, and citrus fruits. Chewing on sugarless gum and other crunchy foods and drinking plenty of water can also be helpful. Your dentist may recommend an over the counter saliva-inducing spray as well.

Spokane Valley Dentistry welcomes new patients into their dental home with a wide range of dental services appropriate to every age. Call today @ 509-926-6261 in Spokane Valley, WA.