SALIVA'S ROLE : Acid Neutralization and Mineral Supply
Saliva plays a key role in protecting the health and beauty of our teeth. Demineralization and remineralization take place constantly at the tooth surface, as dietary and plaque acids seep below the surface to dissolve tooth mineral, while saliva acts to protect the teeth by neutralizing acid and supplying calcium and phosphate ions – the building blocks of hydroxyapatite – that diffuse back into the enamel to restore its mineral density.
When dissolution and restoration balance each other, there is no net mineral loss. But factors like excessive plaque, inadequate saliva flow, or a heavily acidic diet can tip the balance in favor of demineralization, and this leads to actual tooth decay. If sufficient mineral is provided, however, the progression of incipient caries to caries requiring dental treatment can be reversed.