What You Don’t Know About Saliva

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Saliva. Probably not everyone’s favorite subject, but nonetheless an important part of our bodies that should be discussed. While most of us don’t give much thought to the saliva in our mouths, truth be told it is one of the most fascinating components of the human body. Sure, cringe when we see someone drool or spit, but saliva is actually pretty darn cool. Not only is it an essential part of your oral health, but your overall well-being, too. When you think about oral health and taking the steps to keep your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy, you probably picture a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, mouthwash, and all the other funky instruments used by the dentist to keep your mouth clean. However, the one ingredient that is really working to keep your mouth clean, healthy, and free of bacteria is your very own saliva.

Today we thought it would be both educational and fun to go over some interesting facts about saliva. We hope this blog will provide you with insight on just how important that stuff in your mouth is, and why you need it to stay healthy and active.

The human body produces roughly two to four pints of saliva every single day, the majority of which is made during the day. When our mouths are dry (such as when we wake up first thing in the morning, ahem, morning breath), the soft tissues can become swollen and uncomfortable. This is why we are often thirsty when we wake up. Saliva production is also important because it protects our teeth from bacteria by coating them with antibodies that keep unwanted guests away. Now that we understand just how important saliva is, let’s look at a few facts you probably didn’t know about spit:

  • It’s more than just water. While saliva is nearly 99 percent water, it also has minerals, vitamins, hormones, protein, and other important substances your body relies on.
  • It helps the digestive process. While other parts of your body may do most the work when it comes to digesting your food, saliva actually gets the process started. This occurs because the enzymes in your saliva work to break down foods, including fats, starches, and other sometimes-hard to digest items.
  • Saliva contains various antibacterial compounds. Lysozyme, lactoferrin, and peroxidase, to name a few. Some research indicates that wounds licked with saliva (think animals) actually heal a lot faster than those that were left alone. While this study hasn’t been conducted in humans, it is something interesting to keep in mind.
  • Saliva is full of calcium and phosphate. Both of these important vitamins work to reverse damage done to the tooth surface (think pre cavities).
  • Saliva is a lubricant. Spit helps to keep the lips, tongue, cheeks, and other aspects of the mouth wet and lubricated. If you’ve ever had dry mouth, you know how frustrating it can be to swallow, talk, or even rest comfortably when you can hardly swallow because of a lack of saliva.

We hope you now have a better idea of why saliva is important and how it helps your body function. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a yearly exam with one of our Irving dentists, please do not hesitate to contact us. Your dental hygiene is important to all of us and we will do our best to answer any questions you may have!