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January 10, 2019 3 min read

The Wonders of Saliva – Its Role in Maintaining Oral Health


Saliva. It doesn’t conjure up many pleasant images, does it? But did you know that saliva is a vital part of your oral health as well as a window into the health of your overall body?


You could even say saliva is the superhero of bodily fluids.


In this blog, you are going to see how saliva plays a significant role in maintaining oral health. Also, we’ll discuss how reduced saliva production can be a gateway for bad bacteria to build causing dental decay and infections.


So, What Is Saliva Exactly?

Saliva is an exocrine solution consisting of 99% water with electrolytes and proteins making up the remaining 1%. Saliva is produced and secreted primarily by the submandibular, parotid, and the sublingual glands. Saliva is then controlled by the autonomic nervous system – the branch of the nervous system that runs on autopilot without you having to think about it. In a healthy person, around 1.5 liters of saliva is produced daily.


Think About These Wonders The Next Time You Swallow Your Saliva…

Unless you have had a problem with a dry mouth or alike, most of you probably have not given much thought (or care-factor) to how wonderful this bodily fluid actually is! Well, we’re here to tell you it’s more than just a fluid that spills out of your mouth onto your pillow when you sleep. So, read on to discover some of its wonders for benefiting your oral health.


Wonder #1 It Acts as a shield to protect teeth

Saliva contains minerals, enzymes, and antibacterial substances. These substances act as a defensive wall to fight off bad bacteria and in turn prevents dental caries. 

Furthermore, saliva can protect the oral and peri-oral tissues by diluting sugars after eating or drinking. It can neutralize acid production and control pH levels to help prevent enamel erosion, it can also aid in the remineralization of enamel by lubricating the tooth with calcium and phosphates.


Wonder # 2 It Gets the motor running to aid good digestion

Saliva contains many beneficial properties for digestion such as minerals, enzymes, and many antibacterial substances. There are two main enzymes in saliva called lingual lipase and salivary amylase.


Chewing food (mastication) begins the breakdown of food into small particles. As you chew, food is mixed with your saliva causing lingual lipase to initiate the first stage of fat digestion and salivary amylase to initiate carbohydrate digestion. These important enzymes kick-start the digestive process and prepare food to move easily into the stomach for proper digestion and for nutrients to be absorbed into the body.


Therefore, your teeth and your saliva play the primary role in starting protein digestion. So next time you sit down for a meal remember, you only have a set of teeth in your mouth…So. Chew. Well.



Wonder # 3 It Helps you to speak…and we all love a good yarn

Have you ever prepared to give a presentation at work and your mouth dries up right before, making it almost impossible for you to make a peep? When we’re nervous our salivary glands reduce its production of saliva.


Saliva is an important facilitator for speech. It assists by lubricating the moving oral tissues, which then creates smooth speech.


So lubricate that mouth before your next big presentation, and let your saliva help give you the gift of the gab – knock em’ dead!


Wonder # 4 Saliva is used to test the overall health of the body

Scientists have discovered saliva’s importance in revealing the overall health of a person.  Saliva testing is used to help diagnose cancer, gum disease, viral hepatitis, HIV, and other diseases, as well as for DNA testing.



What Happens When There Is Too Little Saliva?

Dry mouth is the name given to the condition when too little saliva is produced.


Dry mouth can be caused by a number of factors including, certain diseases or medications that affect saliva production. The decrease in saliva takes away that protective wall as spoken about earlier, this means bad bacteria increases causing havoc in the mouth. A dry mouth can also cause pain as the gums, tongue, and other tissues become swollen and sore.


Ensuring you drink plenty of water throughout the day can help saliva production. However, if this is a persistent problem then it’s worth seeing your dentist or dental hygienist who will get to the root of the problem.