Saliva is often thought of as dirty and unhygienic. But this liquid composed of 98% water also contains enzymes, antibacterial compounds, electrolytes and other necessary components needed to keep your mouth healthy.
Yes, saliva is more than just an agent of chemical digestion, it also helps your teeth remain tooth decay-free. How does saliva help the teeth? Read on to learn more.
Aside from breaking down starch and helping to dissolve food, saliva also helps protect the teeth. A thin film of saliva covers the teeth and fights tooth decay through its antibacterial agents. It also washes food debris away from the teeth.
Antibacterial agents are present in toothpastes with fluoride. This helps in the rebuilding of lost enamel (remineralisation).
This is called xerostomia or dry mouth. It means a decreased saliva supply. When this happens, bacteria thrive on your teeth.
Mouth breathing can cause a temporary dry mouth. Think about how your breath smells when you wake up to a dry mouth. At first, the effects are minor. But the longer your mouth stays dry, the more vulnerable your oral health and general wellbeing becomes.
Dry mouth is usually caused by one of the following:
Mouth breathing – a healthy person can breathe through the nose and mouth. Mouth breathing happens when you are catching your breath and need air in your lungs faster. However chronic mouth breathing can affect your dental health. Aside from dry mouth, it can also lead to crooked teeth in children.
Medications – there are some medications (even OTC ones) that can cause temporary dry mouth. Medications for depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure are some examples. OTC drugs such as antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and pain relievers can also cause temporary dry mouth.
Lifestyle – dry mouth is more prevalent in smokers and alcoholics. Chewing tobacco also increases the possibility of a dry mouth.
Ageing – ageing brings about changes in the body. Those in their golden years are vulnerable to dry mouth.
Dehydration – dehydration from cold, excessive sweating, vomiting or other ailments can cause temporary dry mouth. Keep yourself hydrated.
Medical problems – certain medical conditions are associated with dry mouth. These include Sjogren’s Syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and sleep apnoea.
Dry mouth is associated with the following:
Identifying the cause is the first step. A comprehensive checkup to identify the cause is necessary. Mouth breathing, for instance, has to be properly checked for effective treatment. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking the right amount of water. To maximise the tooth decay-fighting capacity of saliva, talk to your dentist. Oral hygiene habits and nutrition and diet, are among the recommendations given by dentists fighting dry mouth.