The mouth has a few important structures to pay attention to (lips, teeth, tongue, cheeks), but you cannot forget that without saliva everything else would malfunction. People have several groups of salivary and parotid glands (whose infection causes mumps or measles), and these are situated in front of the ear. There are also the sublingual and submandibular glands, and then hundreds of tiny glands distributed around the oral mucosa. But how does all this tie into pediatric dentists in Omaha NE?
What function does saliva play in a child?
Saliva lubricates the mouth and has antibacterial properties. It also helps the start of digestion because it has enzymes. An interesting property is the ability to ‘buffer’, which means that when a food or drink is too acidic, saliva helps counteract it. Right after eating the bacteria in the mouth begin to work because they feed on the remains that are accumulated on and between the teeth. Such things are metabolized and digested and as a result bacteria produces acids. These acids are those that demineralize and corrode enamel, and that’s what causes tooth decay.
Saliva plays an important role in preventing this from happening. First off, because a tooth washed by saliva is less prone to decay. Thus, the upper incisors, which in many children are exposed to air when their lips at rest, are more prone to decay. The dry air causes plaque to adhere to the tooth, and if the lips do not rub against the tooth surface, the saliva cannot perform its function of cleaning the tooth. This means the teeth remains dirty longer.
What factors favor tooth decay?
Children who breathe through the mouth or sleep with their mouth ajar have more cavities than they would if they breathed through the nose. Likewise, children who do not have space between teeth, which is normal, are much more likely to see decay because saliva does not clean between teeth. Diseases, and most commonly drugs that alter the composition or the amount of saliva, also increase the risk of decay. It is therefore important after use to brush your child’s teeth. For more information, contact pediatric dentist in Omaha NE.