The spit is gone! What saliva flow has to do with dental health
It is rightly said that digestion begins in the mouth. The amylase contained in saliva breaks down starch into usable sugars for the body. And this is just one of the other ways in which saliva influences digestion. But back to our topic of dental health:
The miraculous fluid that enables us to swallow in the first place is 99% water. The one percent is made up of minerals such as sodium, calcium, potassium, phosphates, chloride and fluoride - yes, fluoride is also produced by our own bodies! Particularly relevant for tooth surfaces are the proteins contained in saliva. They form a kind of protective shield on the tooth surface and on the oral mucosa: "buffer substances" that neutralize sugar or acid. Thus saliva is something like a chemical toothbrush.
Saliva - the body's own oral hygieneSaliva
- fights viruses and bacteria
- protects teeth, oral mucosa and gums
- facilitates swallowing
- mostly food and makes it swallowable
- starts sugar digestion through the enzyme amylase
- supports speech through its moistening function
- neutralizes acids
- supports the remineralization of teeth
Saliva contains all the minerals that are also present in the tooth substance and fulfills three important functions in natural dental hygiene:
CLEANING / REMINERALIZATION / REGENERATION.
An adequate flow of saliva reduces the risk of tooth decay, as bacteria have less chance of colonizing and the acids produced by the bacteria are neutralized.
Saliva also maintains a constant pH level in the mouth and protects teeth from acid-induced erosion. This is because our teeth are not acid-proof. If the pH value in the oral cavity falls significantly and over a longer period of time, the teeth become decalcified and their substance gradually degrades.
But evolution changes its blueprints and programs in much larger time windows than humans change their habits. Thus, our saliva mixture is not geared to fast food, sugary food and acids in abundance and is overtaxed as a cleaning and buffering medium. Dental plaque can spread or the excess acids can decalcify and gradually break down the tooth surface. Dental plaque hinders saliva in one of its other functions, remineralization, because it tightly encloses the tooth and does not allow access for the minerals contained in saliva.
The excretions of the bacteria contained in the plaque attack the teeth and gums. This leads to tooth decay and periodontitis, a degenerative disease of the periodontium, with devastating long-term effects on the health of the teeth and oral cavity. Although saliva performs an excellent protective function, it is unfortunately no longer sufficient in today's world: optimal oral hygiene spread throughout the day has become essential.
Dry mouth - more than just unpleasant
Excitement, constant stress and age literally dry out the mouth. Diseases such as Sjorgen's syndrome, in which immune cells attack the tear and salivary glands, chronic diseases such as diabetes, chemotherapy or radiation therapy also cause a lack of saliva. Around 4% of the population suffer from particularly dramatic forms of dry mouth, known as xerostomia.
Medications can also cause hypofunction of the salivary glands. Around 80% of the most commonly prescribed drugs belong to this group.
The tendency to dry mouth has two main natural causes:
- Aging: saliva production decreases with age.
- Being a woman: women tend to produce less saliva. After menopause, even significantly less.
Little saliva compromises dental health and oral health. Inflamed gum pockets are comparable to open wounds: if they are not sufficiently flushed, germs can even infect other organs. For this reason, good oral hygiene is essential, especially for women.
Tips to stimulate the flow of saliva and against dry mouth:
- drink enough: preferably water or unsweetened tea
- do not smoke, this makes the saliva viscous
- Rinse the oral cavity with a tablespoon of oil. Relieves in the short term.
- Eat as neutral as possible: avoid too spicy, sour, spicy and sweet foods.
- Discuss with your doctor whether a change of medication would be possible.
- Ask at the pharmacy for artificial saliva preparations: sprays or gel.
- Chew unsweetened gum or suck unsweetened candy.
- Try to perform dental hygiene after each meal to avoid damage to the tooth structure and soft tissues.
- Make sure that the tooth substance is sufficiently remineralized by using fluoride.
- Visit your dentist regularly to prevent or detect early caries and mucosal damage.
Ensure consistent oral hygiene and remineralization even when you are out and about. I have designed the small SNOW PEARL Travel Kit especially for this purpose. It has room in almost every handbag. the PEARL SHIELD gel toothpaste helps to keep the mineral structure of the tooth surface intact even with reduced saliva flow due to its patented formula, which ensures continuous fluoride release for up to 12 hours.
Do you have any questions? Then write to me!
I am happy to answer your questions.
Yours, Lorenza Dahm