Dental Implants: Pros and Cons

The Benefits of Saliva: 4 Ways that Saliva Benefits Your Teeth

by Brett Clark

Most people don't think of saliva as being anything more than annoying or even disgusting. This especially true for those night-time droolers who frequently wake up to find that their pillow is now cold, wet and sticky against their cheek. However, despite its many downsides, saliva is one of your greatest allies when it comes to keeping your mouth healthy

Without it, your mouth would be a very unpleasant place. In this article, you'll learn how important saliva can be to your oral health and how you can increase saliva production and flow to help you keep your teeth strong and healthy

Saliva Removes Waste from Teeth

There is a good reason that our salivary glands produce 1-2 liters of saliva per day. Your saliva, or spit, along with the natural gullies and crevices of your mouth, acts like a living sewage system to collect and transport food wastage away from your gums and teeth after every meal. 

Were it not for your saliva, particles of food would cling to your teeth and gums, causing plaque buildup and later decay once the acids begin to break down your tooth enamel. Besides this, food left on your teeth only rings the dinner bell for any bacteria that might be lurking nearby. Bacteria produce acids, and acids erode teeth. 

It Contains Calcium

You probably remember being told to drink lots of milk when you were a child, because the calcium would keep your teeth and bones strong. Your saliva too, also contains calcium, as well as phosphate and fluoride—if you live in an area where the tap water contains fluoride. 

It is these compounds contained in your saliva that help to protect your teeth from demineralization caused by acid from food, plaque and bacteria. They act as shields against acid attacks and also as building blocks for repairing damaged teeth. 

It Helps You Taste

The enzymes in your saliva help to break down the food you eat. This is important when it comes to taste as your taste buds lie nestled deep inside your tongue. You will have noticed that when you eat while your mouth is dry, not only does the food feel different, it also lacks taste. 

A healthy, saliva-filled mouth breaks down food quickly and is especially useful for heavy, starchy foods like pasta and bread. Once broken down, the tiny receptors on your tongue can then bind to the molecules and ions, and thus register taste.

It Fights Bacteria

Saliva doesn't like bacteria very much, but bacteria likes the food left behind on your teeth. So as well as acting as a flushing system to carry food away from your mouth, your saliva also contains antibacterial properties and can keep cavity-causing bacteria strains from multiplying out of control on your teeth. 

Now that you know the benefits of saliva, it's important that you make sure you have enough of it to keep your oral health in peak condition. Drink lots of water to keep your system lubricated, chew sugarless gum, especially after meals to increase saliva flow, and eat alkalizing foods like mushrooms, garlic, mangoes and apples to keep pH levels between 7.0 and 7.5. Saliva is gross, but it can ensure your teeth stay healthy for longer.