Saliva: what it is and why you need it

Each day the body produces 2-4 pints of saliva. This moisture allows us to chew, taste, and swallow food and beverages. The proteins and minerals found in saliva help fight germs, prevent bad breath, and protect gums and teeth from disease and decay by clearing food particles from your teeth.

Some medications and diseases prevent people from producing enough saliva making the mouth very dry and causing what is known as dry mouth. Those suffering from dry mouth can have gums, tongue, and other tissues that become swollen and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of environment bacteria thrive in which is why many of those who suffer from dry mouth also have issues with bad breath. Dry mouth sufferers are also more likely to have tooth decay and suffer from gum disease.

You can prevent dry mouth by drinking lots of water and sucking on sugar-free candy. If the problem persists, a dentist can recommend other treatments to help with dry mouth.

On the other side of the spectrum are those who suffer from too much saliva. Luckily, this condition is not as worrisome as too little saliva and is usually not a problem. If it is an annoyance, changes in diet can usually remedy the situation, or talk to your doctor to see if it is the result of a medical problem or condition.

Here are a few dry mouth treatments.

  • Drink plenty of water every day. Dehydration lowers saliva production.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider to see if you’re taking a medication that causes dry mouth.
  • Chew sugar-free gum and suck on sugar-free candy or mints. This can help you make more saliva.
  • See your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings to help prevent problems by spotting them early.
  • See your health care provider, if you have white patches or sore spots in your mouth.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about artificial saliva. He or she can prescribe a rinse or spray to help keep your mouth moist.
  • Avoid foods that are salty, spicy, or acidic — these can dry and irritate your mouth. You may also want to avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol, which can also dry your mouth. Choose soft and smooth foods and make foods moist with sauces or broth.
  • Rinse 4-6 times a day with a baking soda solution to reduce bacterial acids that cause cavities. You can make it at home from 2 teaspoons of baking soda in 8 ounces of water.

If you are having issues with saliva production or any other dental issues, give Jackson Dental a call at 573-243-5200 to schedule an appointment.