Importance of Saliva for a Child’s Oral Care

Among both children and adults alike, spit can be something of a gross topic to discuss. But while it might not be the first area of conversation you bring up at the dinner table, spit and saliva are actually vital parts of oral care, especially for your children.

At Southridge Pediatric Dentistry, we’re happy to explain the ins and outs of saliva and its benefits to you and your child during our dental cleanings, child dental X-rays, sedation dentistry appointments or any of our other services where you find yourself in our offices. While you obviously don’t want your kids focused on spitting all day long, explaining the basic role of saliva in the mouth can be important for helping them understand exactly what’s going on in there. Here are some basics on saliva and what it’s good for.

Where Saliva Comes From

Saliva is a substance in the body that’s almost entirely made up of water. The non-water elements that are found in water include mucus, proteins, minerals, plus an important enzyme known as amylase – an enzyme created by your salivary glands on a daily basis. So while spit and saliva may seem gross in many situations, it’s important to realize that it’s actually almost 100 percent water – around 99 percent, in most cases.

What Saliva Does

In a huge percentage of cases, particularly with children, common oral issues like cavities, discoloration or tooth decay are caused primarily by food and other debris that gets stuck in the mouth. These debris areas become safe havens for all sorts of harmful bacteria in the mouth, bacteria that attacks the tooth enamel and makes it far more susceptible to areas like cavities or decay. In particular, sticky or high-sugar foods are a major risk here.

Where saliva comes in, however, is helping remove these leftover deposits from the mouth. Saliva naturally cleans the mouth regularly, washing away debris to keep the enamel strong. Saliva also has antimicrobial properties, meaning it helps eliminate bacteria in multiple ways and can even help prevent long-term gum disease risks.

Stimulating Saliva Production

If your child does not have enough saliva, often characterized by them complaining of dry mouth or noticing significant cavity increases with no other good explanation, there are ways you can supplement things here. The first is also the simplest, and also holds several other oral and overall health benefits: Get them to drink more water. As we noted above, saliva is primarily water, and the more your child drinks, the better their saliva production will be.

In addition, ensure your child is participating in other standard areas of oral care, such as brushing properly twice a day and flossing daily. If the issue still persists, contact our offices.

For more on saliva and its importance in your child’s mouth, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Southridge Pediatric Dentistry today.