Dr. Gwendolyn Amarquaye-Bayitse, resident dentist of Pepsodent Ghana’s Dental TV Show Time with the Dentist, has shared insights on saliva, a clear liquid that though not much thought has been given to, has big impact on oral health.
Saliva is produced by structures in the mouth known as salivary glands. About 99% of saliva is water and the other 1% includes various components such as enzymes and minerals that help with its function. Saliva moistens the tissues of the mouth to make us more comfortable when eating and even talking. “Digestion of food begins in the mouth with the help of saliva. The enzymes in saliva break down the large complex molecules in food into smaller ones for easy uptake of the nutrients into the bloodstream,” Dr. Amarquaye-Bayitse said.
Expanding on the topic, she added that “the acidity in the mouth increases when we eat and saliva has neutralizing components that minimize the damaging effect acid can have on the teeth. Acid on the teeth causes the minerals like calcium to move out of the teeth in a process called ‘demineralization’ which can lead to cavity formation. Saliva on the other hand has the ability to incorporate these minerals back into the tooth structure in a ‘remineralization’ process to help maintain the integrity of the outer layer of the tooth – enamel.”
Saliva also has some germ-reducing minerals that help fight germs in the mouth, minimizing the risk of tooth decay as well as bad breath. Hence, the importance of saliva cannot be underplayed, as without saliva there would be many problems with one’s oral health. Regardless, there are some conditions and medications that can affect the amount of saliva that a person produces. The medications include some taken for hypertension and depression, as well as some sedatives.
Dr. Gwendolyn Amarquaye-Bayitse said “diseases of the big salivary glands, radiotherapy treatments to the head and neck region as well as excessive alcohol intake can lead to low saliva production and dry mouth. Dry mouth can cause several oral health problems like fungal infections, gum disease, tooth decay and general discomfort in the mouth.”
Her last remarks were that “when your mouth has enough saliva, your teeth and mouth remain better protected. Always remember to brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste like Pepsodent.”
Time with The Dentist is a dental TV show by Pepsodent in partnership with the Ghana Dental Association. The show seeks to educate Ghanaians on basic oral hygiene routines, how to care for the teeth, and some myths and facts associated with maintaining good oral hygiene among others.