It’s not really a common topic to hear people talking about, but it’s something that is almost alwaysthere, working behind the scenes making your life easier and better. Many people who suffer from achronic dry mouthhave horror stories about how terrible it is to live with little to no saliva. After all, when you start to think about it, much of what we do every day is thanks to our saliva. Speaking, eating, swallowing, and so much more requires adequate saliva to work properly.
What is Saliva?
Saliva is a mixture that is secreted from many salivary glands in the mouth. There are three types of saliva that are excreted: serous (watery), mucus (thick), and mixed. Different salivary glands produce different types, and each contributes to the overall fluid that we call saliva. Most saliva in the mouth is composed of about 98% water, with the rest consisting of buffering and mineralizing agents, mucus, digestive enzymes, antibacterial and antibiotic compounds, electrolytes, and glycoproteins.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re really hungry and think about food, your mouth starts to water? This is because pre-digestion begins in the mouth, and it’s so important that just the thought of food can switch it on. Increased salivation ensures that as soon as food hits the mouth it will be mixed with digestive enzymes, breaking down starches and fats.
Functions of Saliva
The 4 main functions of Saliva which are of key importance –
- Buffering: Constantly bathes teeth in crucial minerals that buffer the pH in the mouth. Low (acidic) pH is responsible for the cavities since the teeth’s minerals dissolve in acidic environments
- Lubrication: Saliva protects the oral mucosa (oral tissues) from mechanical damage while speaking, eating, and swallowing.
- Antibacterial & Antibiotic Properties: Specific (IgA) and non-specific (lysozyme, lactoferrin, peroxidase) immunologic actions in saliva help prevent the buildup of microorganisms in the mouth.
- Digestive Enzymes: Aids in the digestion of carbohydrates and fats through their exposure to salivary enzymes
Consult your Dentist for Care
Make sure that you drink enough water during the day, and this is a statement that has been repeated countless times by doctors and dentists both, so it is a statement to be taken seriously. The dentist will tell you to brush and floss regularly, and to go on regular checkup, in order for a potential problem to be spotted early. What is more, a dentist will tell you to avoid acidic or spicy and salty foods, as these can irritate the mouth further, to a state of being dry.