Got saliva?

by Herbs, Etc.

This slippery substance is the unsung hero of your mouth. Saliva keeps your mouth healthy in so many important ways. Its immune complexes maintain balance between beneficial and harmful microbes.

It contains bicarbonate, which neutralizes the acids that cause decay. It provides minerals that strengthen tooth enamel. It cleanses the mouth and keeps the gums healthy.

What can you do if your mouth is too dry? Some suggest chewing sugarless gum containing xylitol for 10 minutes after meals, which stimulates saliva production. It’s true that xylitol curbs mouth bacteria and makes saliva more alkaline.

However, too much gum chewing eventually wears out your enamel.

Ignore any advice you read to suck on sour candies, or any candies at all, for that matter. Hygienists agree that this will surely rot your teeth! Here are some better options:

    • Chew your food thoroughly. Chewing generates more saliva.
    • Stay hydrated. Sip ample amounts of water throughout the day.
    • Avoid excessive coffee or alcohol. Both beverages decrease saliva.
    • Choose a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol, which is drying.
    • More than 400 common medications dry up your saliva. Consult with an herbalist to see whether there may be natural alternatives to these medications.
    • If you’re a mouth breather, break the habit! A dry mouth is an invitation to bacteria.
    • Tame the stress monster. Unrelieved stress revs up the fight or flight part of your nervous system, which sucks the moisture right out of your mouth.