It might not be a favourite topic when it comes to small talk, but it’s important to know – saliva is great! This watery substance does a whole host of hugely helpful things for your teeth and gums. Without it, Here are us would have big dental troubles. Here’s our reasons why we love saliva.

  • Your natural cleaning agent
  • Saliva or spit is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth, cheeks, and just under the jaw. These glands produce anywhere between one and two litres of saliva a day. Saliva is 98% water and this makes it a great natural cleaner. When you eat food, the chewing action stimulates saliva production. This saliva literally washes your teeth, and makes sure sugar contained in the food doesn’t get a chance to hang around. If it did, bacteria found naturally in your mouth would have the opportunity to convert that sugar into acid and plaque. Without a regular food supply, bacteria can’t multiply so easily. Saliva means that all food particles are washed away effortlessly, reducing the chance of tooth decay. It also has a neutralising effect on acid produced by bacteria – again, reducing the chance of tooth damage and decay.

    • Helps keep nasties at bay
    • As well as water, saliva contains a number of essential electrolytes, antibacterial agents and useful enzymes, that help in the battle against tooth damage. For example the electrolyte sodium is important for helping maintain a health pH level – stopping tooth damage through acid erosion of the enamel. Calcium and potassium help maintain strong teeth, first by increasing bone density, and second by hardening the enamel on the outside of the tooth. This is called ‘remineralising’. Enzymes in saliva like amylase and lingual lipase help break down your food as soon as you eat it, meaning you’re able to get all the nutrients from it that your body needs. Lastly, while the effect is not yet proven, it’s believed that the antibacterial ingredients found in saliva, namely lactoferrin, lysozyme and others, help stop nasties from causing harm.

      • Providing a protective layer
      • Saliva doesn’t just get into action when you eat food – it helps protect your teeth all the time. Saliva forms a protective coat over all of your teeth, helping keep the pH – the acidity levels - of your mouth at a safe level. You can help this effect by chewing sugar-free gum after eating – this encourages saliva production, removing food particles left behind and neutralising any acid that might be produced.

        • Helping digest food
        • Saliva helps break up pieces of food, making them easier to chew, swallow and digest. This means that your teeth are less likely to get damaged by a rogue piece of hard bread or a crunchy brazil nut.

          • Helping you taste
          • It might surprise you to know, that saliva also helps your taste buds – well, taste! Saliva helps carry the food you eat to what’s known as taste receptor cells. These tell you what the food you are eating tastes like, helping you enjoy each and every meal.

            • How to keep good saliva
            • The best way to support your body’s own defences is to do everything you can to boost saliva levels and saliva production. First, be sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of water – around eight glasses every day. Try to keep a healthy and balanced diet, with lots of crunchy vegetables like celery and carrots that naturally contain a lot of water, and act like natural toothbrushes too. Also be sure to avoid sugary and fizzy drinks – while these contain water, they also contain lots of sugar which won’t do your teeth any good! Avoid fizzy water too as this is also bad for teeth. Lastly, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, and visit the dentist every six months.

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