Let's talk about spit, baby!
Let's talk about food debris!
Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things and cavities!
Let's talk about spit!
If you sang this to Salt-N-Pepa's hit song in the 90s, give your self a high-five!
As a mom, of two boys, I've come to dislike spitting. It is a gross habit. However, spit, or saliva, is actually a really interesting product of the body. Saliva is also very important when it comes to dental health.
What is saliva?
When you eat, your salivary glands release saliva into the mouth to aid in beginning stages of digestion. Saliva is 99.5% water, but the other .5% is a make up of other important substances. One of those is a disease-fighting substance to help prevent cavities and other infections. Because it is mostly water, it helps wash away food and debris from teeth and gums. And lastly, it helps keep your teeth strong by providing high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions at the tooth surface.
Why is brushing before bed important?
You already know that you need to brush twice a day, but the times your brush also are important. One of those two times should be right before bed. Why, you ask? This is because when we sleep our bodies decrease the production of saliva. If you go to bed without brushing, the bacteria in our mouths will act like it is a $3.99 All-You-Can-Eat mile-long Las Vegas buffet! The bacteria produces acids and the sticky plaque allows for those acids to stay close to the teeth, slowly breaking down the enamel. Enamel is the protective shield of the tooth. It is strong, but the constant presence of acid will wear it away. Once the enamel shield is worn away, a hole is formed and you have a cavity.
When you brush and floss, your brush away the food debris, the sugars, and the plaque. Without those on your teeth and gums, the bacteria has no food source. This reduces your cavity risk greatly!
What is Dry Mouth?
Xerostomia (aka dry mouth) is not a disease, but a symptom of a medical disorder or side effect of a type of prescription drug you may be taking. Dry mouth is the inadequate flow of saliva. If you experience a constant sore throat, burning sensation, trouble speaking, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, or dry nasal passage, you may have dry mouth. Be sure to talk to your dentist so that they can recommend methods to restore the moisture in your mouth.
The next time my two-year-old is sticking out his tongue in defiance and "spitting," I will calmly put him on his time-out spot and teach him about why we should not waste saliva. "Miles....let's talk about spit, baby!"
Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist