While many patients understand the importance of teeth and gums for their oral health–especially since tooth decay and gum disease can destroy a healthy smile–many are not often aware that saliva is actually a key component to a healthy mouth.
Saliva is created from blood and maintains healthy soft and hard tissues in the mouth. The most effective way to stimulate saliva production is to chew, as this action causes the muscles to compress and release saliva.
Saliva’s job is to wash away food particles and moisten and break down your food. Saliva 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 ensure that your saliva is doing its job properly, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, such as water, and watch your caffeine intake. You can also chew sugar-free gum or mints to stimulate saliva production. If you have dry mouth due to insufficient saliva, our dentist may prescribe artificial saliva rinse or spray to help moisten your mouth.
If you are concerned that you might have dry mouth, please call Lansdowne Dental Arts in Leesburg, Virginia, at 703-858-5990 today. Dr. Jun H Chung and our team are here to help you maintain a healthy smile!