1st December 2023

What your saliva says about your oral health

Most people don’t give their spit a second thought when going about their day-to-day life – but saliva plays an important role in maintaining oral health.

From keeping soft and hard tissues healthy to aiding digestion, saliva is more essential than you might think. Without saliva, a dry mouth can be more than just uncomfortable.

So, what exactly is saliva, and why do we need it? This blog explains what saliva does and what you should do if you aren’t producing enough saliva.

What is saliva?

Saliva is a fluid that’s at least 95% water but is also made up of mucus and various electrolytes, enzymes, immunoglobins, proteins, and antibacterial or nitrogenous compounds.

These combined components help to break down food when you eat, which is one of the main functions of saliva – and the reason why there’s usually more saliva in your mouth while you’re eating, as chewing activates your salivary glands.

The salivary glands are located inside the cheeks, under the tongue at the bottom of the mouth, and near the front of the jawbone. These produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist, and enough to support digestion when you consume food and drink.

Why is saliva important?

Saliva is your mouth’s defence against any bacteria that may enter, forming a lubricated barrier across your tongue, gums, cheeks, and the inside of your mouth. This lubrication is also what keeps your mouth comfortably moist and allows you to speak smoothly.

You wouldn’t be able to taste food without saliva helping the molecules to interact with your taste buds, nor could you chew or swallow properly without saliva enzymes helping to break food down and carry it down your throat without irritating the tissues.

The cycling of spit through your mouth is also necessary for cleaning, helping to dilute sugars and dislodge food particles that could feed the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Saliva helps to keep your teeth strong and protects your tooth enamel, neutralising acids that can break down enamel and remineralising tooth surfaces.

Additionally, saliva can be tested to identify potential disease risks, as the proteins and DNA in spit can help to diagnose viruses, allergies, fertility issues, some types of cancer, and more. 

What happens if you have a dry mouth?

If you do not produce enough saliva, your mouth can become very dry – a condition that is called xerostomia, more commonly referred to as simply ‘dry mouth’.

Without the lubricated barrier or cleansing action of saliva, the soft tissues in your mouth can become irritated and inflamed by a build-up of harmful bacteria. 

This can cause the development of gingivitis (gum inflammation) or periodontitis (infected gums), which can not only be painful but typically leads to tooth decay and the development of cavities if the gum disease isn’t treated.

Gum infections and decaying teeth can also result in halitosis (bad breath) and affect your ability to taste, which can be quite unpleasant to live with.

There are many reasons why a person might have a dry mouth, which include:

  • Certain diseases (e.g. diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, or Sjogren’s syndrome)
  • Dehydration (not drinking enough water)
  • Blockages in salivary glands or ducts
  • ‘Fight or flight’ responses to stressful situations
  • Bad lifestyle habits (like smoking cigarettes or poor nutrition)
  • Cancer treatments (like chemotherapy and radiation therapy)

Many over-the-counter or prescribed medications can also affect saliva flow, including antihistamines for allergies, appetite suppressants, some blood pressure drugs, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, and some analgesics (painkillers).

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep dry mouth at bay.

How to keep your saliva healthy

If you want to keep your saliva healthy and ensure that you produce the right amount of saliva to maintain your oral health, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Drink plenty of water – stay hydrated, but avoid drinks with high sugar content
  • Practice oral hygiene – brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day
  • Avoid mouthwash – rinses that contain alcohol can actually dry out the mouth
  • Chew gum – chew erythritol or xylitol gum or eat sugar-free mints to increase saliva

Should you have consistent trouble with a lack of saliva that’s affecting your gums and teeth, you need to go and see your dentist as soon as possible for an assessment.

You should be visiting your dentist for a check-up at least once a year, and seeing a dental hygienist to have your teeth and gums professionally cleaned at least twice a year.

Our dentists in Warrington would be happy to see you here at Dental Solutions, where we can assess the health of your mouth and advise you on treatments that could help.

Give us a call on 01925 756 565 or email us at [email protected] to arrange an appointment and receive tailored oral health advice.

Back to Blog


Get in touch

Treatment -  Dental Solutions Treatment -  Dental Solutions

General Dentistry

A first-class dental service.

Learn More
Treatment -  Dental Solutions Treatment -  Dental Solutions

Cosmetic Dentistry

Learn the magic of a smile makeover.

Learn More
Treatment -  Dental Solutions Treatment -  Dental Solutions

Teath Straightening

Achieve a straighter smile in months.

Learn More
Treatment -  Dental Solutions Treatment -  Dental Solutions

Dental Implants

Your future smile begins with dental implants.

Learn More
Treatment -  Dental Solutions Treatment -  Dental Solutions

Facial Aesthetics

Start afresh with facial rejuvenation.

Learn More
Our Treatments


What our patients say

Based on 286 reviews
Mike White
Mike White
The best experience. When you step through the door you are met by the friendliest receptionist,Which continues through the practice. If you want the best dental care and treatments across the board this is where you need to go.
Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell
I came to dental solutions with severe anxiety of dentists and Lauren was so helpful, kind and patient with me. For the first time in years I've found a dentist who I feel comfortable with. Thank you
Gill S
Gill S
I had a wisdom tooth extracted by Gavin after having toothache due to my tooth breaking. I was nervous as I had not had a tooth removed by injection before. Gavin was reassuring, explained the procedure fully and it was over quickly with no pain. All staff at the practice are caring, friendly and professional and I have been going for many years. I highly recommend Dental Solutions.
Thank you to Gavin and team at Dental Solutions for the superb dental work done yesterday. As well as being highly professional and very good at what they do the place has a great atmosphere which makes going to the dentist a pleasure.
tracy grensinger
tracy grensinger
Amazing experience. I felt in safe friendly professional hands with all the team . Thank you!
Zoe Manley
Zoe Manley
Can’t speak highly enough of this practice and in particular Lauren. 2 years ago I walked in and was so nervous I cried just as the sight of the chair. Her and the staff have been so patient and understanding and have worked with me to overcome my phobia. This week I had a filling and was absolutely fine, my family couldn’t believe it. Reception staff are lovely and really accommodating too. So glad I found them, I don’t dread the dentist anymore.
David Partridge
David Partridge
A really Five Star Dental Practice! Upon arrival I was greeted by their most friendly welcoming receptionists. it seems nothing is 'too much trouble' to them. Gavin is similarly very friendly and the surgery is kitted out with the most high-tech modern equipment. On my first visit Gavin examined my teeth and explained my options to me giving me his recommendation for treatment and reasons why. Their Co-ordinator prepared a detailed quote for my treatment and went through it in detail with me, ensuring I understood everything; she had plenty of time for me as a patient. From the outset I had complete confidence in entrusting them with my dental care and the final results are truly amazing. Gavin and Richard could not have been more professional and my treatment was made as painless as possible. Dental Solutions provide a truly outstanding service and I thank them for my new 'long lost' smile and renewed confidence, especially when dining out and talking with people. I can't recommend them too highly.
Carole Dodwell
Carole Dodwell
A first class experience from start to finish. Despite being fearful of visiting the dentist, Gavin put me at ease with his gentle unhurried manner. I was surprised at how relaxed I actually felt undergoing treatment for a crown and the removal/replacement of front teeth veneers. Having felt self conscious about my front teeth for a long time, I decided to have my old veneers replaced. The results were amazing and far exceeded my expectations. What Gavin achieved was nothing short of a work of art, boosting my confidence tenfold. The practice itself is very welcoming, the customer service excellent and the staff are all very friendly and kind. I cannot recommend this dental practise highly enough.
Nick Halliwell
Nick Halliwell
I recently needed some urgent treatment and after trying a couple of dentists in the area, dental solutions were the only dentist that agreed to see me, genuinely nobody else showed any interest in helping me. The receptionist I spoke to initially was super compassionate and understanding and did all she could to get me in asap. I saw Lauren for all of my appointments, and I’ve now had: a composite filling, root canal and emax crown and just yesterday had a wisdom tooth extracted. I don't know what Lauren does but I have had zero pain or discomfort with any treatments during and after. I'm extremely happy with the results of her work. She definitely knows her stuff and filled me with the utmost confidence whilst in the chair! I literally cant find any fault with any of the experiences I have had so far. They go the extra mile and do it with a smile. What more can you ask for?! Definitely my dentist for the foreseeable future! Thank you Lauren and everyone!
Pete Taberham
Pete Taberham
Had my initial consultation with Lauren, truly professional and extremely friendly. She explained all my options in detail and following discussions opted for veneers and can't wait to see the end result.
Google Rating
Google Rating
Google Rating