Sometimes we take the simple things in life for granted … like saliva. You might never have considered how important it is to our dental and overall health. But consider this: If it weren’t for saliva, our mouths would be teeming with bacteria and our teeth crusted with plaque, resulting in decay and disease that could enter our bloodstreams and cause a myriad of health problems.
Not only does saliva wash away bacteria into our stomachs, where they are broken down during the digestive process, but it also contains proteins that break down plaque and neutralize toxins. Think of it as nature’s antibiotic.
So, there’s good news here. An ally in the fight for good health is made continuously and in abundant quantity right in our own mouths. And there are simple steps we can take to help our saliva do its job. In fact, most of us find these therapies enjoyable and refreshing. Your kids will even be excited!
As counterintuitive as it may seem — and to the contrary of what you may have been told by dentists in the past — chewing gum can help you maintain dental health. That’s right! The key is to make sure the gum is sugar free and to chew it after meals. This loosens food particles that may have adhered to your teeth and stimulates saliva to wash it away so it won’t form plaque over the course of the day.
With the balmy South Louisiana summer looming, now’s a good time for a reminder about the importance of proper hydration. Maintaining adequate water intake is integral to overall health year round, and it is especially important during the hot summer months, when we are more likely to lose fluids through sweat. Dehydration can have serious consequences, and they start in our mouths.
Saliva production is diminished when we aren’t properly hydrated. So, be prepared. Always keep a bottle of water handy and in ample supply when engaging in strenuous outdoor activities. Pure water really is best, perhaps with a spritz of lemon or lime if that makes it more enticing. Save the sugary soft drinks for special occasions, a these promote tooth decay. Also avoid drinks that contain caffeine. a diuretic that counteracts the benefits you’re aiming to achieve. Besides, nothing quenches your thirst on a hot summer day quite like a tall glass of ice-cold H2O.
It’s as easy as that, folks. Chew some sugar-free gum, drink plenty of water, and keep that saliva flowing. And remember: Sometimes our strongest allies are where we least expect to find them!
Curtis H. Roy, D.D.S., has served Acadiana residents with a general dentistry and specialty practice since 1970. Find his practice on the Web atwww.drcurtisroyandassociates.com, visit the office at 3703 Johnston St., Lafayette, or call 981.9811, and look for him on Facebook and Twitt