Saliva is nothing to spit at! If you think the only thing saliva is good for is helping you chew, think again! Saliva is a complex, important fluid produced by the human body that has many vital uses. Enjoy these fun facts about saliva.
Saliva is Mostly Water
Saliva is composed of 98% straight water; the remaining 2% is composed of other substances including mucus, proteins, minerals, electrolytes, antibacterial compounds and enzymes.
Saliva is produced by glands
Production of saliva starts in one of three pairs of the mouth’s major, and hundreds of minor, salivary glands. The major salivary glands are the parotid (inside cheeks), sublingual (under the tongue) and the submandibular (near the jawbone); there are hundreds of smaller glands that all empty into the mouth.
Saliva is nature’s lubricant
Saliva starts the digestive process in the mouth, helping you chew and swallow. Saliva has a lubricating aspect that moisturizes the inside of the mouth and helps with speaking.
Saliva is a solvent
Saliva works as a solvent by dissolving food and allowing the tongue to taste. It also washes away debris from food and rinses harmful bacteria from the tooth surfaces.
Saliva is a stabilizer
Saliva serves as an antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal agent, helping to stabilize the pH in your system; it also washes and supplies certain minerals like calcium and phosphorous to your teeth.
Saliva is great for your teeth
A thin layer of saliva constantly coats your teeth and serves as a buffer against bacteria that cause gum disease, tooth decay and infection. Saliva also neutralizes acids and bacteria responsible for decay with a process called remineralization.
Saliva helps with digestion
Saliva kick-starts digestion with an enzyme called amylase, which starts breaking down starches and sugars in the mouth, allowing for the food to become more moist and smaller to make swallowing easier.
Too little saliva is a medical concern
Xerostomia occurs when the body doesn’t manufacture enough saliva. Commonly known as “dry mouth disease, xerostomia’s side effects include an increase in gum disease and tooth decay. Not only is dry mouth uncomfortable, but it also promotes the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungus.
Saliva is a good diagnostic tool
Saliva is inextricably intertwined with blood and a very useful indicator for certain medical conditions. Lack of saliva makes spotting certain diseases that much tougher.
Disease and treatments can affect saliva production
Certain medical conditions and their treatments can contribute to a person not producing enough saliva. Diabetes and Sjögren’s Syndrome (which can result in a number of conditions – from dry eyes to irritable bowel syndrome) and treatments like chemotherapy and certain cold medications can affect the amount of saliva your body produces
Saliva and chewing gum
Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on candy can help replenish low levels of saliva. Your doctor can also prescribe artificial saliva or rinses to boost your saliva production.
If you constantly find yourself suffering from dry mouth or low levels of saliva, tell your doctor or dentist. It could be the result of a medical condition. Your dentist will also know right away if your saliva production is wreaking havoc on your dental health. As the premiere dentist in Plantation, Florida, Dr. Ernie Soto understands the importance of keeping your mouth healthy and how a healthy mouth can improve your overall health. To meet with Dr. Soto and his friendly staff, click here to schedule an appointment securely via the web or, call him directly at (954) 368-6264 today!