Role of Saliva in Protecting Teeth Against Cavities

Role of Saliva in Protecting Teeth Against CavitiesWater accounts for more than 99 percent of saliva. This water keeps your mouth comfortably moist, while lubricating food and kick-starting the digestive process. However, saliva also contains compounds called salivary mucins that play an equally important role. According to a new study, salivary mucins protect your teeth from the damage associated with streptococcus mutans, or the bacteria responsible for cavities.

This study, published in “Applied and Environmental Microbiology,” determined that salivary mucins suspend streptococcus mutans in liquid to reduce the amount of biofilm that can attach to the surface of the teeth. Biofilm, also known as plaque, is a sticky substance that attaches to the enamel. The bacteria secrete acidic byproducts that erode the enamel of the teeth, which leads to cavities. Researchers determined that the mucins were actively manipulating the behavior of the microbes to protect the teeth.

This information is critical for those who suffer from dry mouth. If you are not producing enough saliva naturally, your teeth could be at risk of the growth of bacteria. The bacteria that would normally be suspended in the salivary mucins could instead attach to your teeth, increasing the likelihood of tooth decay. Keeping your mouth wet by drinking plenty of water or chewing gum is a great start, but you may also need prescription saliva products for maximum protection. Good dental hygiene will also help remove plaque and bacteria from your teeth. Call us today to learn more or to schedule your next appointment with our Northridge dentist.

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