Saliva is constantly present in our mouths: in fact, it is estimated that the average adult produces between 0.5 L and 1.5 L every day! But what is this liquid used for and what is it made of? As you may have guessed, saliva has its own role to play: it has several functions and is an essential component of your health. Your South Shore dentist tells you more.
The Centre Dentaire & D’implantologie Boucherville answers your questions about saliva and invites you to consult your dental office if you notice abnormal salivation.
Water, But Not Only!
Saliva is composed of 99% water. On the one hand, this liquid keeps the inside of your mouth hydrated and by doing so, allows you to speak easily. Indeed, who has never experienced the unpleasant sensation of having a dry mouth? The lubricating function of saliva facilitates elocution and masticatory movements. It allows you to chew without hurting yourself, as the mouth surfaces slide against each other.
But besides water, what else is saliva made of? The remaining 1% is composed of ions and organic elements.
Among others, bicarbonate, phosphates, and urea, all of which are alkaline elements, help neutralize the acid. Thus, as long as you have saliva, which rinses your teeth, they are protected against the acids attacking them.
By the way, did you know that you produce less saliva at night? That’s why it’s important to brush your teeth before bedtime: the acids in your mouth accelerate the formation of cavities when saliva is not actively fighting them!
In fact, saliva can even help neutralize microbes that could make us sick, thus contributing to our overall health. In addition to its protective role, saliva also contributes to the healing of lesions in the mouth and to recovery from dental surgery.
Organic elements such as salivary enzymes and amylases have a digestive function. By mixing with the food we chew, they start the digestion process by breaking down the food – that’s why you should take the time to chew!
Finally, the ions (calcium phosphate and fluoride) contained in saliva contribute to the remineralization of the enamel. This is the opposite of the demineralization process that acid exerts on teeth. In fact, early decay can even be restored through remineralization!
In addition to dry mouth, which can be remedied with adequate hydration, symptoms affecting the production, composition or texture of saliva can indicate other health concerns.
For example, saliva that is too acidic may indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach juices flow back into the mouth. It is important to treat this condition, as the acids can harm the teeth. The normal pH of saliva is 7.2: below 7.0, saliva is considered too acidic.
If the saliva becomes white and lumpy, it may be a Candida albicans yeast infection.
Excessive saliva, on the other hand, often affects pregnant women, but can also be a sign of a neurodegenerative disease. When heavy salivation occurs at night, however, there is no need to worry!
Healthy saliva actively contributes to a healthy mouth and even a healthy body. Water, ions, and organic components each have a role to play in your oral health equilibrium!
Visit Your Boucherville Dental Centre
Whether you have salivation problems or any dental concerns, your Dagenais and Lachapelle dentists in Boucherville will take care of your health. For your routine appointments or when symptoms appear, come and meet them for a quick and gentle diagnosis and treatment: our reassuring professionals are waiting for you.