Saliva is the clear liquid substance produced by glands located around your lower jaw, neck, and under your tongue. Saliva is essential for good oral and general health. There are five types of saliva produced in response to various stimuli, including:
- Cephalic, which occurs when you smell or see something you perceive as delicious
- Buccal, produced to aid digestion and stimulate your swallowing reflex
- Esophageal to move chewed food through the esophagus
- Gastric, created when your stomach is irritated, and you experience nausea or vomiting
- Intestinal, produced when a substance irritates your upper intestinal tract
Fun Facts About Saliva
Saliva is essential for numerous bodily functions, from digestion to immunity. Here are a few fun facts to help you understand more about the importance of saliva.
Saliva is Mostly Water
Saliva is made up of 99% water, and the remaining 1% consists of a combination of digestive enzymes, electrolytes, uric acid, protein to create mucus, and cholesterol.
These different compounds help break down your food, allow you to swallow more easily, and rinse food particles from your teeth. This is why it is critical to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day to support healthy saliva production.
Your Body Produces a Lot of Saliva Everyday
Your body produces an astonishing 2-6 cups of saliva every day, depending on your general health. Although your body creates saliva 24 hours per day, production peaks in the early afternoon and dramatically decreases at night.
Low saliva production is linked to dry mouth, bad breath, and an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Snoring, sleep apnea, some medications, and age can contribute to low saliva production.
Brushing your teeth before bed can minimize the impact of low saliva production overnight.
You Need Saliva to Taste
Your taste buds aren’t the only way to enjoy the flavors in your food. Saliva acts as a solvent to dissolve and distribute volatile aromatic compounds from your food. It also keeps your taste buds moist and provides nutrients for optimal function.
Saliva is Home to Billions of Bacteria
Your mouth is home to over 700 different bacteria. One study suggests that each time you kiss someone, you transfer 80 million bacteria – enough to impact your kissing partner’s microbiome.
Many of these bacteria are good for you, working to protect your teeth and gums and aiding digestion. However, other bacterial species, such as Streptococcus mutans, feed on the sugars from the food you eat, causing acidic byproducts and leading to bad breath, gingivitis, and cavities if they are not removed with regular brushing.
Saliva Keeps You Healthy
Saliva is your body’s first line of defense against harmful microorganisms. It washes away the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and bad breath, lowering acid production and helping to neutralize your mouth’s pH.
Saliva also contains small amounts of pathogen-fighting white blood cells called neutrophils for wound healing and carries critical minerals, including calcium and potassium, to help remineralize tooth enamel and strengthen teeth.
Visit Countryside Dental Group for Better Oral Health
Drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, and maintaining a thorough oral health routine can encourage healthy saliva production to protect your teeth and gums. You can also support a healthy mouth with regular checkups at the Countryside Dental Group. Call us to schedule your appointment today.