As an experienced Beaverton family dentist, Dr. Walker knows that his patients have a lot to consider when it comes to protecting the long-term health of their teeth and gums. From how much sugar they should keep in their diets to which brand of toothpaste best meets their oral health needs, our Murray Scholls Family Dental patients have a number of important oral health issues they need to address to continue looking and feeling their best.
One aspect of a patient’s oral health that usually doesn’t come to mind when patients consider what helps to create a healthy mouth is saliva. Saliva acts like the body’s natural defense mechanism against the types of harmful bacteria that contribute to the development of tooth decay and gum disease. Without saliva working to help keep the mouth as a balanced ecosystem of good and bad bacteria your risk of developing significant oral health problems increases.
Let’s take a look at a few of the ways saliva works to protect the mouth, and how an experienced Beaverton family dentist like Dr. Walker can help if you deal with dry mouth.
Plaque is a sticky biofilm comprised of harmful oral bacteria and food particles that linger in the mouth after eating. Plaque clings to the surface of your teeth and produces harmful acids that slowly erode away tooth enamel and irritates gum tissue. When allowed to build up, plaque hardens into tartar, a yellowish substance that discolors your teeth and leads to the development of cavities and gum disease.
Studies have shown that saliva contributes to the development of salivary pellicles, which cover the hard and soft tissues in the mouth. These pellicles act like an invisible barrier that works to prevent plaque from sticking to the surface of your teeth. When combined with brushing and flossing, saliva helps to keep your teeth from becoming a teeming playground full of harmful bacteria.
The starch in foods like pasta and bread is just another form of sugar that can contribute to the development of cavities if allowed to remain in the mouth after eating. Saliva works to actively break down these substances into a form that’s less problematic to the health of your teeth. By breaking down simple and complex carbs, saliva makes it easier for the mouth to flush these substances out, rather than allow them to stay stuck to your teeth and gums.
When you eat larger meals like lunch and dinner, the mouth creates higher levels of saliva. Not only does this make it easier for you to swallow and for your stomach to digest the food you eat, the increased saliva flow acts like a type of car wash for your teeth. It helps to keep your mouth far cleaner, which deprives plaque of the fuel source it needs to damage your long-term oral health.