Saliva may not seem like the cleanest of subjects and you may think of it as anything but an annoyance, but the saliva found in your spit is a vital part of your oral health – and plays a big role in the quality of your teeth and gums.
At Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry, our preventive dentistry services include helping your children with all saliva-related areas. Part of this is explaining to both parents and kids alike why saliva is important, plus the functions it carries out in the mouth. Here are all the basics you need to know, including how to stimulate saliva production in your child if they’re at a deficit.
Saliva is a liquid substance comprised of water, proteins, mucus, minerals and amylase – an enzyme made by the salivary glands in the mouth. These glands are present in the mouth itself, plus the cheek, tongue and lips as well. Water is the primary ingredient in saliva, making up about 99 percent of its composition.
Saliva and Food Debris
When it comes to oral health, food debris is the enemy. Little food bits left in the mouth after eating are havens for harmful bacteria and plaque buildups, which are the primary causes for many oral issues that are issues for many years in some cases. Certain foods are extremely high-risk for this kind of thing, such as sticky or starchy foods that expose the teeth to more sugar and allow acid to attack tooth enamel.
Preventing this requires consistent washing away of any food debris, and this is where saliva comes in. It’s the mouth’s natural cleaner, helping flush out bits of food and limiting the length of time during which acid can attack tooth enamel. It also has antimicrobial properties that ward off the bacteria that causes cavities, and can even help regulate the mouth’s pH balance. Finally, it’s one of the body’s primary defenses against gum disease.
Stimulating Saliva Production
As we noted above, saliva is roughly 99 percent water – as such, stimulating more saliva production if your child is struggling to produce enough comes down to being better hydrated. Every person needs slightly different amounts of water, particularly when we’re talking about different ages of children, but there are several methods you can take to up your child’s intake if they aren’t getting enough. Start with basic ideas like giving them their own water bottle with some of their favorite images or characters on it, or by requiring that they drink certain amounts of water along with any snack or with certain meals.
For more on why saliva is important for your child and how to stimulate it, or to learn about any of our children’s dentist services, speak to the staff at Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry today.