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Author Topic: Is it better to rinse your mouth or let saliva do its job?  (Read 1700 times)

Offline thedoc

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Rob Faraone asked the Naked Scientists:
   
From a dental health perspective, is it better, when one wakes up at night to urinate, to swish some fresh water in the mouth and thus flush the mouth of acid buildup; OR is it better to not do so and let the anti-bacterial strengths of saliva work in the mouth.

Underlying objective or point of interest is to minimise dental decay.
 
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Rob Faraone (long time, regular and enthusiastic listener)

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 31/07/2012 10:30:01 by _system »


 

Offline chris

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Saliva's rich in bicarbonate and calcium, so it will help to counter oral acids produced by plaque bacteria and it will help to remineralise acid-eroded enamel. Water, on the other hand, contains much lower concentrations of both ions, so would not do the job half as well. It also doesn't contain micro-suppressing agents like antibodies and lysozyme. But - and this is where things are less clear-cut, saliva is produced more slowly and therefore might take longer to wash away sugars deposited in the mouth from food.

Therefore, I think the best approach is to not clean teeth directly after a meal; instead, wait for mouth pH to rise under the influence of saliva again, and allow some tooth remineralisation; but clean teeth after half an hour or so using a calcium and fluoride-rich toothpaste.

I don't have a reference for this, I am basing it purely on my intuition as a microbiologist and a doctor; I'd be grateful if anyone does have any published data they can share with us on this area.

Chris
 

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