You already know that healthy teeth and gums are important to your smile, but did you know that saliva is actually a key component to a healthy mouth? Derived from blood, saliva maintains healthy soft and hard tissues in the mouth, and without it, your smile would be at risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
The job of saliva is to wash away food particles and moisten and break down your food. It helps you taste and swallow and has disease-fighting agents which prevent tooth decay and oral infections. It also protects your teeth by secreting high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions which directly benefit your teeth.
Inadequate saliva production actually increases your risk of tooth decay. So what exactly are your saliva glands and how do they work? There are three salivary glands on each side of your mouth.
- The parotid gland up high in your cheek secreting saliva just above your upper molars.
- The submandibular gland lies deep in your jawbone alongside your bottom teeth secreting saliva beneath the tongue.
- The sublingual gland sits beneath the tip of your tongue secreting saliva near the front of your tongue’s bottom surface.
To make sure that your saliva is doing its job properly, you will want to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, and limit your caffeine intake. The most effective way to stimulate saliva production is to chew, as this action causes the muscles to compress and release saliva, so chew sugar-free gum or mints to stimulate saliva production.
If you are experiencing dry mouth due to insufficient saliva production, Dr. Sylvan Stern may prescribe artificial saliva rinse or spray to help. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call Sylvan S. Stern, DDS in Southfield, Michigan, at 248-559-0995. Our team is always ready to help you maintain your healthy smile!