The Importance of Saliva

Staying well hydrated can help you to avoid gum disease and decay.

Saliva isn’t something that we talk about very often, We all have it, but it generally isn’t a topic that would be discussed at a social occasion. Despite this, it plays a very important role in preventative oral health care.

Sufficient saliva flow is necessary to both wash away food debris from the mouth, and also the ‘bad’ bacteria that would otherwise start to compromise the health of our teeth and gums.

Dry mouth

Most of us that have experienced a dry mouth have probably done so following physical exertion or perhaps after drinking alcohol the night before. Whilst any damage done in this short period is likely to be temporary, and re-hydrating with water will start to reverse this, some patients suffer more permanently from dry mouth syndrome, and this can be quite damaging to the long term health of both teeth and gums. In addition to the ‘washing away’ process, the mucus component of saliva is now also believed to act as a protective coating on the teeth, helping to prevent the enamel from being compromised by acids from any sugars that we consume.

At The Lodge Dental Suite, we check for problems like gum disease and decay during your regular check up, and the hygienist at our practice near Waltham Abbey will also discuss with you any lifestyle choices that may increase your risk. Whilst we don’t wish to spoil anybody’s fun, there is little doubt that excessive or continual drinking will lead to regular dry mouths and will leave the patient increasingly at risk from gum diseases such as gingivitis and ultimately periodontitis.

Avoiding gum disease

Brushing and flossing are obviously key to avoiding gum problems, but hydration is also very important. Those that are especially prone to a dry mouth should ensure that they are continually well hydrated, drinking water regularly through the day rather than waiting until they are thirsty. A sugar free gum may also be chewed to stimulate saliva flow. This also has the positive side effects of helping to remove bacteria and small food particles from between the teeth. Do avoid gums containing sugar though, as these will probably cancel out any positives.

It should probably also be said that water is the best way to re-hydrate. Unfortunately, we have seen too many of our patients from towns in the local area such as Enfield and Waltham Abbey who have used commercially available sports drinks to help re-hydrate. These are often packed full with sugars, whether added or natural, and are increasingly being blamed for their role in increasing tooth decay, especially amongst younger patients.

Whatever your lifestyle choices, you can be certain that regular oral health checks at The Lodge Dental Suite will help to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Whilst avoiding dental problems is the best solution for this, ensuring that any issues such as gum disease or decay are caught early is the next best thing, allowing minor procedures to be performed as preventative measures before the problems become more advanced. Please call your local dentist based in Cheshunt today on 01992 643388 for your appointment.