Role of Saliva in Protection of Teeth
Saliva is an important element in good oral hygiene that is often overlooked. In fact, research indicates that it may actively fight the bacterium that causes tooth decay.
Plaque is caused by bacteria that naturally occur in our mouth. When these bacteria come into contact with sugars in the foods that we eat, they produce acids that contribute to food decay as the byproduct. As a result, plaque will build up if it is not removed. When it builds, it forms into a biofilm that attaches to the surface of our teeth. There is growing evidence that the mucus in our saliva prevents the plaque from attaching to our teeth, as well as creating this biofilm. Unless the bacteria are able to attach to our teeth, they are not able to cause cavities. Since the plaque biofilm acts as a shelter for the bacteria, it is important to prevent this biofilm from developing.
In order to promote the creation of saliva, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Staying hydrated is the best way to encourage saliva creation. Drinking plenty of water is your best bet for staying hydrated. Avoid fruit juices and carbonated beverages, as they do not hydrate as well, and they contain harmful sugars that can encourage plaque formation. Certain over-the-counter medications can actually cause you to have a dry mouth, as well. Antihistamines and decongestants both have a tendency to cause dehydration and a dry mouth. Limit your intake of these medications to only when it is absolutely necessary. Certain anti-anxiety and anti-depressants have a similar quality, so be sure to drink plenty of water if you are taking these medications.
If you have any additional questions about how to best promote the production of saliva, contact our North Hollywood dentist for more information.
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