9 Fun Facts about Saliva
Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD
- Saliva is as much as 99% water, with a complex mix of proteins, minerals, vitamins, hormones, and other substances, along with traces of food, toothpaste, and whatever else you put in your mouth.
- Hundreds of salivary glands in the mouth produce, on average, about a quart of liquid a day, enough to fill two medium-size bathtubs a year. But saliva production varies considerably from person to person, by time of day, and under different circumstances. Notably, you produce less saliva when you are sleeping or dehydrated and, typically, as you age.
- Mucins are protein molecules that might be compared to microscopic ball bearings and they are the key lubricating components in saliva. They help you chew, speak, and swallow. They stick to the teeth and help shield them, to some extent, from bacteria and acids and thus from cavities.
- Saliva protects teeth and gums, lubricates the mouth, and helps regulate the acid balance of the mouth. It provides the environment in which tooth minerals can be replaced. That’s why chronic dry mouth can cause cavities and gum disease.
- Saliva contains enzymes that start the digestive process by helping to break down starches and fats. It lubricates the food you are chewing and enables you to swallow it.
- Food molecules must dissolve in saliva in order to be recognized by taste buds.
- Saliva contains antibodies that fight germs, along with substances that promote skin cell growth and blood clotting. That’s an important reason why wounds in the mouth usually stop bleeding and heal faster than wounds elsewhere on the body.
- When you are nervous or frightened, saliva production is reduced. Hot weather, inadequate fluid intake, strenuous exercise, many medications, and some medical conditions can result in decreased saliva production and potentially dry mouth. Smoking or breathing through your mouth dries up saliva.
- Saliva can be analyzed to monitor alcohol intake, smoking, and drug use. It may also be useful in diagnosing disease. For instance, there are FDA-approved saliva tests to detect antibodies to HIV and the hepatitis C virus. Someday diagnostic saliva tests may be as common as blood tests.
For more information or questions regarding your saliva, talk with your doctor or hygienist today! Spring Lake Dental Group exclusively offers OraCare mouth rinse to target issues regarding dry mouth and bad breath! Call us today, 910-497-3200!
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