Dry mouth issues impact daily life.10,11 Healthy saliva, in sufficient quantities, contributes to mastication, verbal communication, digestion, comfortable respiration, and sexual activities. Activities such as speaking, singing and whistling are compromised when the mouth is dry. Adequate saliva helps people chew food, is necessary to taste food, combines with food particles to form a bolus that can be swallowed, keeps food from sticking to the teeth, and dilutes hot, cold and spicy foods. Salivary enzymes begin the initial phase of digestion by breaking down starch molecules into less complex fermentable carbohydrates.2,11
Saliva lubricates and supports mucosal integrity, has antimicrobial properties, aids in healing and cleansing, supports remineralization, buffers acids and helps stabilize oral pH levels, improves comfort levels of a partial or full denture, and helps to form a protective pellicle on tooth surfaces. Saliva contains digestive enzymes, acid-buffering compounds, proteins, mucins, and is a rich source of calcium and phosphate, minerals necessary for maintaining the ionic balance of the oral environment. A homeostatic environment is critical to maintain healthy dentition.2,12
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