Without this fluid, it would be difficult to eat and taste food.
Medical advisor Juan Manuel Cárdenas Vásquez, general and pediatric dentist
Humans produce between one and two liters of saliva a day naturally. This amount can vary depending on a person’s diet, whether they take medication, suffer from certain diseases, and whether they consume, smell or see different foods. Saliva is an essential in order for the oral cavity to function property. Some of its main functions includes moistening food in order to ease digestion, helping the tongue taste different flavors, breaking down food and cleaning the inside of the mouth.
Saliva is produced constantly in the minor salivary glands such as the labial, buccal, palatal or lingual glands and it is produced in abundance in the major glands such as the parotid (inner part of the cheeks), submaxillary and sublingual glands.
According to Dr. Juan Manuel Cárdenas Vásquez, general and pediatric dentist, this fluid consists of water as well as a number of minerals that are vital to maintaining a person’s oral ecology, where different anatomic and physical structures interact. Read on to learn more about its many benefits.
Saliva and your pH
Some people are more likely to have cavities due to the fact that their saliva is more acidic. In these cases, it is important to be more careful about foods that can cause heartburn. It is especially important to maintain good oral hygiene, which can be complemented with fluoride mouthwash.
The many functions of saliva
Helps lubricate: Saliva not only permeates the teeth and soft tissues, it also permeates the airways. Lubrication facilitates speaking and pronouncing, as it keeps the tongue hydrated as well as all the components that are involved in speaking.
Facilitates eating: In your digestion, it helps form the alimentary bolus, making it easy to swallow. In taste, it makes possible to differentiate the taste of the food.
Is antimicrobial: Because of the immunoglobulin and proteins it contains, saliva protects the body from bacteria in order to prevent infections. When you have little saliva, you are more likely to contract infections. This dryness also affects your teeth because it contributes to a greater risk of cavities as a result of dental plaque, where microorganisms can build up and destroy enamel. Saliva helps regulate certain elements that attack these bacteria.
Protects enamel: Each layer of your teeth is covered by calcium, which is exposed to your saliva. As Dr. Cárdenas affirms, “When you eat sweets, due to the gastric juices that sugar produces, saliva becomes acidic, causing you to lose minerals which breaks down tooth enamel. You can protect your enamel if your pH is basic.”
Keeps halitosis under control: Sometimes, bad breath is caused by dryness in the oral cavity. For example, this can happen with people that breathe through their mouth or have certain conditions. Bad breath can also be a side effect of a medical treatment.
95% of saliva is water. Saliva also contains phosphate, bicarbonate and enzymes which allow it to perform its functions.
See also: Saliva: An aid in your digestion