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Saliva plays a critical role when we eat, lubricating different parts of the oral cavity, contributing enzymes that help to break down food, and allowing us to taste, chew, and swallow. However, saliva can also contribute to maintaining oral health. It prevents dental diseases such as caries and oral infections from occurring. Here’s how the Dentists Billericay residents trust describe its oral-health role:
How is Saliva Formed
Ninety percent of saliva forms from secretions produced by the three major salivary glands in the mouth: the submandibular, parotid, and sublingual glands. The other 10 percent forms in the minor glands of the mouth.
These glands secrete a fluid mixture, 99 percent of which is water. The other one percent consists of various proteins and electrolytes. The combination of these components is the liquid we call saliva.
These glands secrete saliva throughout the day, though the amount of secretion is generally much lower until an external stimulus causes them to ramp up production. Mechanical (pressure), gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell) or pharmacological (drug) contributors can all stimulate the salivary glands to produce more saliva.
Key Roles of Saliva
Aside from the role, it fills in the digestive process; saliva also has other vital functions. Many of these functions are protective by nature.
Saliva protects the oral area using anti-microbial enzymes such as lysozyme. These enzymes attack microbes and prevent them from travelling further down the gastrointestinal tract.
Saliva is alkaline by nature. This makes it excellent at acting as a buffer to acidic agents, such as those found in the stomach. This alkalinity and the bicarbonate it contains also allows saliva to neutralise the acidity of plaque.
The Function of Saliva in Dental Disease Prevention
Considering the protective nature of saliva, here’s how it helps prevent dental diseases:
Removal of Waste
The constant production and flow of saliva around the mouth aids in the disposal of disease-causing microbes. Saliva protects the teeth by causing microbes to clump together. This action keeps these microbes away from teeth and allows them to be swallowed into the acidic environment of your stomach.
Barrier and Buffering Agent
Saliva helps to moisten the oral cavity. This reduces the effects of toxins or irritants. It also neutralises acidic food and drink to protect teeth from degradation.
Reflux acids from the stomach also pose a danger to teeth. Saliva protects against this by acting as a buffer.
Protection Against Tooth Decay
The acid produced by bacteria in the mouth contribute to tooth decay. These acids can weaken and dissolve the minerals that make up the teeth. Saliva protects against this by neutralising these acids, making them less harmful. Saliva also removes food particles such as sugar, which tooth-decay-causing bacteria feed on.
Saliva plays a role in enamel remineralisation, which is the creation of tougher enamel layers that occurs after bacteria or acids cause tooth demineralisation. Remineralisation occurs when calcium and phosphate ions in saliva bind together and harden. This natural process can help to prevent or even reverse tooth decay.
Heals Wound Faster
Saliva contains essential proteins for tissue repair. These include growth factors such as epidermal and vascular endothelial. These factors allow wounds to heal faster, which decreases the chance of infection and the subsequent dental disease that can cause.
Fostering Healthy Plaque Biofilm
Saliva contains proteins that create a plaque biofilm called the pellicle. This film captures free-floating bacteria, which in turn attracts and captures more bacteria, causing bacterial clumps to form. As these clumps grow, they make bacteria easier to swallow.
Dan works at Dentalkind, a quality dentist in Billericay, Essex. Dentalkind have a team of qualified and experienced dentists offering honest and ethical dental advice and treatments to suit your needs, all under one roof for your convenience. “If you are looking for a dentist who sees you as an individual and not just a set of teeth, then you have found the right place!” Dentalkind provide a wide range of cosmetic dental treatments including: Dental Implants, Porcelain and Composite Veneers, Cosmetic Dentures, Orthodontics and much more Visit www.dentalkind.com for more information.
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