All About Saliva

Our mouths and teeth are constantly bathed in saliva, a clear liquid made mostly of water and produced by the salivary glands that reside inside each cheek, at the bottom of the mouth, and near our front teeth by the jaw bone.

salivary1We never give much thought to this remarkable liquid, yet it is crucial to keeping our mouths comfortable and protecting our oral health.

Here are just a few things saliva does:

  • Keeps teeth and other oral tissues moist and lubricated
  • Washes away food and debris from teeth and gums
  • Keeps acid levels in the mouth low
  • Protects against some viruses and bacteria, including gum disease
  • Helps moisten and break down food to ease swallowing and enhance taste
  • Provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth to protect us from some viruses, bacteria and infection
  • Has proteins and minerals that protect tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay
  • Helps keep the surface of teeth strong by providing high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions at the tooth surface

Another important role of saliva is that it may be an indicator of health concerns. In fact, the U.S. National Institutes of Health has targeted salivary diagnostics as an important area of development and is researching its many potential uses. Saliva is already used for rapid HIV testing and researchers have reported promising results in the use of saliva for the diagnosis of breast cancer, oral cancers, gum disease and viral hepatitis.

Some easy things you can do to keep your salivary glands healthy and your mouth moist and comfortable include the following:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Suck on sugar-free candy

If you are experiencing issues with dry mouth or too much saliva, talk to your doctor or call Angell’s Dentistry for an appointment for a dental checkup. Dr. Douglas Angell and the staff at Angell’s Dentistry are committed to helping you keep your mouth healthy. And be sure to visit our website at:

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