If you are the parent of a young child, their initial phase of drooling is likely adorable. Although, as your child gets older, you may find their saliva less appealing. Negative perceptions about saliva are common, and many people do not realize the benefits of it. They also may not realize that a dry mouth can place people at risk for oral issues. The following information will help you to better understand why saliva is optimal for dental health.
Protects the Surface of Teeth
Saliva aids in forming a barrier between teeth and the many acidic things that people consume on a daily basis. It also promotes remineralization because it has calcium minerals concentrated in it.
Aids in the Removal of Food Particles
Many people, especially children, do not brush after each meal. This leaves the possibility open that food particles may get stuck on and between teeth. These food particles may build up throughout the course of a day, which may affect tooth enamel and contribute to decay and gum inflammation. Adequate saliva production aids in removing some of the residue from food, which can keep gums and teeth healthy.
Important Digestive Aid
Saliva moistens food, which aids in it being able to be easily chewed and swallowed. If solid foods are not moistened by saliva and broken down by chewing, there is a strong possibility that indigestion may occur. This could have negative effects such as vomiting undigested food, which could damage tooth enamel due to the stomach acid that likely will be present in the regurgitated food. It can also impair proper digestion and cause issues such as heartburn. The taste of food may also be negatively impacted when there is not adequate saliva production. This may lead to your child skipping healthy food options or adding excess sugar and salt in an attempt to be able to "taste" their food. Too much sugar and salt can cause a number of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Saliva aids in a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth. It serves as an antimicrobial and flushes away bacteria that can cause tooth and gum issues. Without adequate saliva production, these harmful bacteria can cause multiple oral issues including tooth loss.
If you have concerns about your child's saliva production, a dentist from a clinic like Kids First Pediatric Dentistry is a good resource to use. They can give you advice on what you can do to prevent your child from having a dry mouth, which may be as simple as chewing sugarless gum. They can also determine if your child has hypersalivation issues and suggest treatments.