Did you ever notice how it always seems, no matter what type of sporting event, kids always feel the need to spit? The same goes for professional athletes too! At our pediatric dental office in Long Island we often wonder why kids and adults go to such great lengths to get rid of saliva when it’s actually quite helpful to our teeth. (It’s a good thing we produce up to a liter of saliva daily!)
Here are a few ways spit actually protects teeth:
Food is what keeps us going, but after a big meal, it’s saliva that starts working hard to help clear away extra food that could get stuck on and in between teeth. When food sticks to teeth, it can actually contribute to decay. Bacteria love to feed on the food debris left behind, and it’s these bacteria that cause trouble. Spit helps remove this food source, and can even help wash away the bad bacteria.
When plaque builds up on teeth, it can lead to cavities for kids and grownups alike. Plaque produces acid and acid erodes the protective enamel, leaving teeth more exposed to bacteria and germs. Acids are also found in so many of the liquids we drink and foods we eat. Saliva contains helpful molecules called “buffers” that are extremely good at neutralizing acid and its negative impact on teeth.
When babies are teething there is a constant, steady flow of drool. It may be messy, but the saliva is actually working hard to protect the teeth that are preparing to make their entrance into the world. When these baby teeth first show up in the mouth, their protective enamel is not fully developed. Spit can fill the new tooth’s weak spots with calcium, phosphate, and even fluoride. It gives these new teeth a fighting chance against some of our mouth’s worst enemies.
Spit is a powerful antibacterial agent too, with the power to destroy any nasty bacteria that dares to enter its path. This benefits teeth, and the rest of the body too. There’s even evidence of specific spit components that are particularly good at slowing the growth of a cavity-causing bacterial strain. Thank you saliva!
We hope you learned a little bit about the importance of saliva and how it can be a big help to our teeth, and our bodies. It’s always important to keep up with regular checkups at our Long Island pediatric dental office to help keep bad bacteria from doing damage to your little one’s precious smile. Schedule your appointment today!
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