We have been taught since we were kids that keeping your smile pretty means you have to brush, floss and rinse every day. In fact, we’ve also been told we should do it after every meal. As a child, it’s incredibly difficult to keep up that tall order. What kid keeps a toothbrush with them? But keeping it to twice a day was a bit more feasible with mom’s constant reminders. What you don’t know is that we are given a natural tooth decaying weapon – saliva.
That’s right. The answer is already inside of your mouth. See, tooth decay is something that happens when bacteria feeds off the sugars we consume through food and drink. This plaque latches on to your teeth and begins to eat through the enamel. Generally, we are under the impression that by brushing our teeth after every meal, there isn’t much time for this oral menace to do a whole lot of damage. But even more than that, when the saliva glands are activated in our mouths, it actually helps rinse off the bacteria naturally.
So what causes us to create saliva? Chewing. Every meal and every snack you eat, every piece of bubble gum you chew is all helping to create the saliva that fights against germs and bad breath. But keep in mind, it takes 20 minutes for sugar to be cleared from your mouth after its consumption. The more often you are chewing on something sugary, the more often you are exposing your teeth to more bacteria, so try to keep the things you consume less sugary and more healthy. Sugar-free gum & candy is great, but so is a simple bottle of water. Keeping a nice balance will not only get those salivary glands working, but will also help out when you don’t have a toothbrush handy.
Unfortunately, there are some conditions that prevent a healthy amount of saliva to produce in our mouths. Certain medications or diseases can also affect the way your body produces saliva. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is more likely to develop conditions like rapid tooth decay, gum disease, cavities or even bad breath. This may be able to be cured naturally by drinking lots of water and chewing on sugar-free gum or candy, but you should have a medical professional give you their opinion, just in case it is preventable.
If you are on the other side of the spectrum, you are producing too much saliva. Overactive glands could be affected by something as simple as taste buds reacting to spicy foods, to something much more serious, like poisoning or stroke. And while it is generally fixable, you may need a doctor to prescribe you something if it is an actual health condition causing the excessive saliva.
Saliva is your mouth’s first line of defense when it comes to keeping your mouth healthy. It is nature’s disinfecting cavity fighter. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your teeth healthy, both at home and when visiting a dental professional. You don’t have to brush your teeth…Just the ones you want to keep!
Schedule an appointment today with Dr. David Lunt, DDS by calling 818-885-7230. Visit the website for more information at www.davidluntdds.com.
Dr. Lunt gladly accepts patients from Cal State Northridge, Burbank, San Fernando, Topanga Canyon, Valley Glen, Agoura and all surrounding areas.