The Importance of Saliva

spit1Did you know that saliva is derived from your blood and like blood it helps build and maintain the health of your oral cavity? Saliva is important in the maintenance of your oral health, but according to recent research it has many healing properties, as well.  In today’s blog, your Des Moines Dentist, Dr. Stephen Burds discusses the importance of saliva.

Oral Health

When you do not produce enough saliva your oral cavity can suffer problems such as infection, tooth decay, bad breath, and others. Saliva protects against these things by:

  • Washing away food debris and bacteria from teeth and gums
  • Moistening and breaking down food to make it easier to taste and swallow
  • Providing disease-fighting substances that help prevent bad breath, infection and tooth decay
  • Providing  calcium, fluoride, and phosphates that help remineralize enamel and strengthen teeth

Can Saliva Heal?

Because saliva is known to contain electrolytes, glycoproteins, enzymes, minerals, and antibacterial compounds it is believed that it can help disinfect and heal. The SLPI (secretory leukocyte inhibitor) protein found in saliva reverses tissue destruction and increases healing when applied to wounds.  Immunoglobulin, nitrate compounds, lactoferrin, peroxidases and lysozymes are all other antibacterial agents found in saliva. Some, like the nitrate compounds inhibit bacterial growth, while others like the lactoferrin works as a fungicide and bacteriocide.

Because it has many of the same properties as blood its use in the detection and diagnoses of disease is being studied. Presently, saliva is used for rapid HIV testing, and has shown promise for the diagnosis of viral hepatitis, periodontal disease, oral cancer, and breast cancer. Saliva, and its many potential uses, has been targeted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health as an important area for research and development.

About your Des Moines Dentist

If a sleep disorder is taking a toll on your health and relationships, contact Dr. Stephen J. Burds office at 515-442-5659. As a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, he has extensive experience helping his patients obtain restful sleep via oral appliance therapy. We welcome patients from River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.