Everyone knows that healthy teeth and gums are important to a healthy smile, but did you know that saliva is actually a key component to a healthy mouth as well? Created from blood, saliva maintains healthy soft and hard tissues in the mouth.
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. The most effective way to stimulate saliva production is to chew, as this action causes the muscles to compress and release saliva, so chew sugar-free gum or mints to stimulate saliva production.
If you have dry mouth due to insufficient saliva, Dr. Mark L. Pitel may prescribe artificial saliva rinse or spray to help moisten your mouth. If you are concerned that you might have dry mouth, please call our team in Poughkeepsie, New York, at 845-454-0790 today.