Why Saliva is More Important Than You May Think

June 28, 2018

pouring water into a glassIt may sound crazy, but you should be thankful for your spit! Though our society says the stuff is gross, life without it would be a lot grosser. Our breath would smell worse, plaque would run rampant, and our mouths would feel swollen and painful.

At Highlands Ranch Dental Group, we believe saliva gets too much negative and not enough positive attention, and that really bums us out! To express our appreciation, we are are taking this moment to sing our hero’s praises.

Saliva Glands Keep Your Mouth Healthy

If you’re chewing, your saliva glands are at work. All of your digestive processes begin in your mouth, when saliva starts breaking apart food particles. More vigorous chewing will result in more saliva being produced.

As your saliva flows, it kick starts several processes, like:

  • Helping you to swallow
  • Making it easier for you to chew and taste
  • Efficiently delivering nutrients to your teeth, which helps protect enamel, fight gum disease, and prevent decay
  • Freshening breath
  • Rinsing plaque and food particles from your mouth

There are six main salivary glands in your mouth. They are located on either side of your cheek, at the bottom of your mouth, an in between your front teeth and jaw bone. You also have many more minor salivary glands throughout your mouth.

What if You Didn’t Have Saliva?

If you don’t produce enough saliva, you suffer from a condition called dry mouth. It’s a symptom of certain diseases, and a side effect of certain medications, including:

  • Blood pressure pills
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Pain medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiety medications
  • Allergy drugs like Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), and Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • Appetite suppressants

If you’re getting ready to start a new medication and are concerned about dry mouth, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Some additional causes of dry mouth are:

  • Dehydration
  • Chemo or radiation therapy
  • Blockage or structural issues with salivary ducts
  • Stress
  • Smoking

What to Do if You Have Dry Mouth

The best way to treat dry mouth is by drinking plenty of water. If that doesn’t work, you can also try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy.

If you’re having trouble treating your dry mouth on your own, make an appointment with your dentist. You may respond better to professional treatment.