Saliva’s Role in Oral Health

Saliva or “Spit” as some call it, plays a significant role in maintaining oral health. It is derived from blood and acts as the bloodstream of the mouth. Like blood, saliva helps build and maintain the health of soft and hard tissue in the mouth. It washes away food from teeth and neutralizes acid produced by bacteria which reduces the possibility of cavity formation .  Sufficient amount of saliva in the mouth keeps the surface of your teeth strong by providing high level of calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions. It also enhances your ability to taste and aids in digestion.  In addition to keeping your mouth healthy, saliva may contain indicators that can be used to detect and diagnose other diseases that could effect your general health. Researchers have reported promising results in the use of saliva for the diagnosis of breast cancer, oral cancer, gum disease and viral hepatitis.

When saliva flow is reduced, it could aid in more oral health problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. Dry mouth refers to a condition in which the salivary glands in the mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Dry Mouth is often due to side effects from certain medications or radiation for cancer therapy. Aging, Nerve damage, tobacco and recreational drugs can also reduce saliva production. 

Whatever may be the cause of dry mouth, it is imperative to address it and find a solution to maintain sufficient amount of saliva in the mouth for good oral health. If you notice dry mouth or if your dentist mentions it during a dental exam, speak to your physician to find proper treatment for it. Often times a prescribed mouth wash used on a daily basis can alleviate dry mouth and help maintain a good oral health.