Six Ways Saliva Helps Your Mouth and Body Stay Healthy

saliva-300While it doesn’t garner the star power of blood, saliva is still an important bodily fluid. A true multi-tasker, saliva contributes in many ways to the function and health of the body, from stronger teeth to more efficient digestion.

Here are six ways saliva helps your mouth and body function properly and stay healthy.

The mouth’s natural cleanser. Bacteria are responsible for much of the dental disease that plagues us, particularly tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva clears the mouth of food remnants, bacteria’s primary feeding source, after we eat. This leaves a cleaner mouth and fewer bacteria to cause infection.

The immune system’s partner. Saliva contains an antibody called Immunoglobulin A (IgA) that attacks disease-causing microorganisms. Along with secreting other antibacterial agents like lactoferrin and lyzozyme that curb the growth and development of bacteria, saliva serves as the body’s first line of defense against pathogens entering through the mouth.

Acid neutralizer. The optimal oral environment is a neutral pH of 7. Many of our foods and beverages, though, are highly acidic, which can raise the mouth’s acid level. The acidic environment causes the minerals in tooth enamel to soften and dissolve (a process called de-mineralization). Saliva restores the balance by neutralizing any remaining acid after we eat (a process that takes about 30 to 60 minutes).

Mineral replacer. Even under normal conditions, enamel will de-mineralize to some extent whenever the mouth becomes acidic. Saliva restores some of the enamel’s lost minerals like calcium and phosphate while it’s neutralizing acid. If fluoride is also present in saliva from fluoridated drinking water or toothpaste, it too is absorbed by the enamel making it stronger and more resistant to acid attacks.

Digestion enhancer. Saliva lubricates the mouth while we eat, making it easier for us to chew (and taste) our food. Saliva also releases the enzyme amylase as we chew to break down starches before the food enters our stomach. The end result is more efficient and comfortable digestion.

The wave of the future in diagnostics. Like blood and urine, saliva contains genetic and disease markers that could tell a physician if a patient has a certain condition. Since collecting a saliva sample is much easier than with these other bodily fluids, diagnosing disease with saliva will become more prevalent as more calibrated devices reach the market.

If you would like more information on the role of saliva in the body, please contact us or schedule an appointmentfor a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Saliva.”

How Often Should I Be Flossing?

Dental-Veneers 2Do you brush your teeth? Your answer is probably an affirmative. How about flossing? Well, many people hesitate on that question, maybe fearing to admit that their flossing habits are hit and miss or altogether absent.

Flossing benefits oral health by removing filmy plaque that settles on tooth surfaces and at the gum line. Brushing twice daily removes a lot of it, along with the harmful germs that eat away at tooth enamel and gum tissue. However, for optimal oral health, brushing must partner with flossing to thoroughly clean between teeth and in those hard to reach areas of the mouth your toothbrush misses.

How Often to Floss

Dr. Michael DeLaura at Delaura Dental agrees with the American Dental Association which says floss at least once a day. Frankly, dental patients with restorations such as fixed bridgework or orthodontic patients with traditional metal brackets and wires should floss more.

The flossing rule applies to children, teens and adults, and while opinions vary on when to floss, the important thing to do it regularly. Many dentists favor night time flossing as tooth-cleansing saliva production falls off at night, and bacteria-filled plaque can do more damage. Also, it really doesn’t matter whether you floss before or after you brush your teeth.

How to Floss

Select a floss product you like. Waxed or plain, flavored, skinny, wide–there are plenty out on the market. Choose a quality, ADA-accepted floss. and use it consistently, following these steps:

  • Pull a 18-inch length of floss from the dispenser, and wind each end around the top of the index or middle fingers of each hand.
  • Pull the floss taut with your thumbs, and carefully insert a short section in between two teeth.
  • Move the floss up and down in the interdental space, gently flossing the gum line, too.
  • Proceed around the mouth, using a fresh section of floss for each new space.
  • Take special care with the backside of your back most molars.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.

DeLaura Dental

Dr. Michael DeLaura is highly skilled in many advanced dental services, including full dental implant placement and orthodontics in the Romeo, MI area. Dr. DeLaura also has a passion for the basics of oral health. These include brushing, flossing, regular exams and hygienic cleanings as the solid foundation for lifelong healthy smiles.

Keep consistent with your dental care. Call DeLaura Dental in the Romeo area for an appointment today. Phone 855-601-2948.