Saliva plays a significant role in maintaining our oral health by maintaining oral tissues and removing food for digestion.
But what is saliva?
Saliva is actually 99% water. The remaining 1% consists of electrolytes and proteins that are associated with saliva’s functions in the mouth. It is secreted from 3 major salivary glands in the mouth called the submandibular, parotid, and sublingual glands. At rest, a healthy subject will secrete are 0.5mL of saliva a minute without any stimulation of the glands. This saliva is meant to lubricate the oral tissues and keep the mouth moist.
Stimulated saliva is produced in response to mechanical, gustatory, olfactory, or pharmacological stimuli. Stimulated saliva glands can work up to 6 times faster than unstimulated glands. Saliva can be stimulated by many different senses including sight, hearing, smelling, and tasting.
The major functions of saliva are the following:
- Protection of oral tissues
- Lubrication of mouth and food
- Dilution of sugars after food and drink intake
- Chemical buffering in the mouth
- Tissue repair
- Teeth strengthening by providing high levels of calcium and phosphate in the mouth
- Facilitating eating and speech
- Enhancing taste
- Aids in digestion
- Tooth remineralization
Saliva has numerous functions, some related to oral health and some related to overall health. Saliva is currently associated with the prevention of tooth decay (cavities) as it neutralizes the acids responsible for causing the problem. For example, the simple habit of chewing sugar-free gum can have a very positive impact on the mouth, as it naturally increases saliva flow in the mouth.
Present day researchers know that reduced saliva flow in the mouth causes oral problems such as tooth decay. Saliva also helps doctors to detect other illnesses and diseases that may affect the whole body. This topic is a major research area in the present day.
Saliva helps with just about everything in our mouth. Its numerous health benefits are something that should not be overlooked. Have any concerns about your oral health? Contact our team at Apple Dental Group today and we will do our best to help!