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Browsing 23 posts in tooth decay.

10 things you probably didn’t know about saliva/spit

Let’s face it…saliva gets no respect.  Most people think of it only as drool or slobber instead of the vital part of oral health that it truly is.  With that in mind…I give you “10 things you probably didn’t know about saliva/spit.”

10) Saliva is about 98% water.  The rest of saliva is made up of electrolytes, mucous and various enzymes.

9) Llamas often spit at attackers when they feel threated and will spit at each other to help establish their pecking order.

8 ) Chemical digestion of food begins in the mouth with the enzyme amylase, which is contained in the saliva.  Amylase breaks complex carbohydrates (starches) into smaller carbohydrates (sugars).  You might notice that potato can taste sweet as it’s being chewed and this is due to the action of amylase.

Saliva_7_120847) Saliva (pictured) is a rock band that formed in Memphis in 1996.  They are best known for their 2001 metal/hip hop crossover “Click Click Boom.”

6) The bacteria in human plaque turn the sugary foods that we eat into acid.  This acid, as well as acids from the foods we eat, can cause a drop in the pH of our mouths which is the cause of cavities in our teeth. Enzymes found in saliva help to neutralize these pH changes and maintain a healthy acid/base balance in our mouth.

5) Saliva contains many antibacterial compounds like lysozyme, lactoferrin and peroxidase.  There is some animal research that suggests that wounds licked with saliva heal faster than those that aren’t. These studies were not conducted in humans although it is interesting to note that wounds inside the mouth tend to heal much faster than those on skin (external to the mouth).

4) Saliva carries Calcium and Phosphate ions which help to reverse damage done on the tooth surface (“pre-cavities”)
by bacterial acids.

Dungeness Spit3) A spit is a kind of a land form or sand bar that develops when the direction of the shoreline turns inland or “reenters.”  This causes currents and waves to drop the sediment they are carrying and forms a kind of a depositional sand bar.  The largest spit in the U.S. is called the Dungeness Spit (pictured) and it is located in Sequim, WA.

2) Saliva serves to lubricate the lips, tongue, cheeks and other parts of the mouth.  If you’ve ever had a dry mouth you know that it can be hard to speak or swallow when you’re low on saliva.  Many people with certain illnesses or taking certain medications suffer from chronic dry mouth, called xerostomia, which puts them at greater risk for cavities and other dental problems.

1) A healthy human creates between .75 and 1.5 liters of saliva every day.  Salivary flow is reduced to almost zero during sleep which is one very good reason to brush and floss just prior to going to bed.

I hope this primer has given you a different perspective about saliva.  The next time you hold a drooling baby or notice your mouth water at some delicious aroma you can be thankful for it’s important role!

If you have any questions about this post or any other tooth/mouth related questions for that matter, drop me an email at  I would be happy to reply or even better, I’d love you help you with all of your dental health needs!  Feel free to call and make an appointment at (989) 799-9133!

The trouble with acid


What do you think of when you hear the word “acid?”  My mind goes to car batteries and high school chemistry lab.  Ask anyone you can think of if they would want acid on any part of their body and they’ll look at you like you’re crazy!

What folks probably don’t know is that anyone who’s ever had a cavity has bathed their teeth in acid!  A cavity is simply a hole eaten into a tooth with acid.  Nothing more, nothing less.

So how does the acid get there?  You’re probably thinking, “I certainly don’t put acid on my teeth!”  Acid can get onto your teeth in two ways.

The first way you can get acid on your teeth is from bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria like to eat the same things people do and their favorite food is sugar (sucrose).  But just like all other living things, bacteria produce waste products that they have to get rid of.  The waste product that bacteria make is acid.  The more sugar you eat and the more bacteria you have on your teeth, the more acid is produced. This acid can eat a hole in your tooth and once this hole is big enough…it becomes a cavity.

The other way that we can get acid on our teeth is through our diet.  There are lots of foods that we eat that are acidic in nature.  Some foods get their distinctive flavors because of this acid.  Tomatoes, oranges and lemons all have a lot of acid in them.  I have treated patients that actually had enamel loss due to a history of eating lemons.

So what foods are the worst for creating acid which then creates cavities? Probably the number one cavity creating food is pop.  Regular “non-diet” pop has a ton of sugar as well as a ton of acid.
Pop pH
This combination of sugar and acid can start digging holes in teeth pretty quickly.  Diet soda is probably better for your teeth than regular soda, but it also has a pretty low pH so it’s still pretty tough on teeth.

What’s the solution for this acid problem?  Regular brushing and flossing and limited exposure to high acid foods, especially soda. Chewing sugarless gum after meals is something small that you can do that makes a big difference to the pH of your mouth after meals! Also, regular dental appointments can help you see if you’re a “high acid risk.”  We’d love to have you as a patient here at Mead Family Dental.  If you would like to make an appointment you can call us at (989) 799-9133 or feel free to email me directly at


“Mommas don’t let your babies grow up to have cavities…”

I have a 15 month old boy.  He’s got himself a mouth full of teeth and it makes his dentist father proud!  The dentist in me wants him to never eat a sweet and limit his eating to only meal times.  The dad in me wants him to be happy and sometimes wants to give him a bottle to get him to nap!  So what’s a guy to do?

There’s some pretty interesting research out there that’s answering the questions about the best way to start junior’s oral health out on the right foot.  Here’s some of the high points:

  • Tooth decay is a transmissible disease caused by bacteria in the mouth.
    • Just like a cold, a child can get cavity bugs from someone else.
    • Transmission is through “salivary contact.”  Yup, that’s pretty gross but lets face it, sometimes you share a spoon with your little cherub or you kiss on them. It happens!
  • There is a strong (but not perfect) relationship to the bacteria that colonize a child’s mouth and the bacteria in the mother’s mouth.  Usually a child gets their cavity bugs from Mom.
  • Frequent exposure to sugary foods is the main dietary cause to tooth decay in children

What does it all mean.  Here’s what I take away from it:

  • Mom and Dad need to take care of their teeth.  If Mom or Dad have cavities, they should take care of them quickly.  If you don’t know if you’ve got cavities, you need to find out!  How can you find out?  We’ve got appointments available immediately!  Call us at: (989) 799-9133.
  • Stay away from sugary drinks and snacks.  Even fruit juice or processed fruit baby foods are high in sugars that can cause cavities.  Some of these foods have added sugar and many of them have concentrated the natural sugars through processing.  If you’ve ever had a drink of apple juice from the bottle you’ll know what I’m talking about.
    • One 8 oz. serving of apple juice has 26-30 grams of carbohydrates (“sugars”) vs. one 8 oz serving of Coca Cola has 27 grams of carbohydrates (“sugars”)
  • Water down juice given to a child.
  • Give your baby/children milk to drink.  It has the least “bad sugars” and may even be protective of teeth
  • Don’t get in the habit of having your children snack a lot between meals.  When they do, limit their snacks to non-sugary things
  • Don’t give your baby a bottle to go to bed!

Love those babies, but love their teeth, too!  If you have any questions or comments feel free to comment at the bottom of this entry or email me at

For some more reading on the subject I highly recommend this article from the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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