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Saliva Definition

Saliva starts the digestive process in the mouth. 

Saliva is a food fluid that mixes with food in the mouth during chewing by teeth. It acts as a digestive juice and softens the food, allowing for an easier digestion process. Salivary glands produce this substance. Moreover, Saliva is a dark, colorless, opalescent fluid found in the mouths of humans and other vertebrates at all times. Air, mucus, proteins, mineral salts, and amylase make up this fluid. Saliva gathers up food waste, bacterial cells, and white blood cells as it circulates in the mouth cavity. The human mouth excretes one to two liters of fluid every day.

Human Saliva Uses and Roles

The Following are Some of the Functions of Human Saliva in Food Digestion:

  • It moistens the food to make it easier to swallow.

  • It produces salivary amylase, a digestive enzyme that breaks down starch into sugar.

  • Food is lubricated and moistened, making swallowing easier.

  • Aids in the creation of the bolus by allowing food particles to stick together and be swallowed as a mass.

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What does Saliva Contain?

The contents of Saliva are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, and phosphates, among other electrolytes. Immunoglobulins, proteins, carbohydrates, mucins, and nitrogenous compounds like urea and ammonia are also present in saliva. In the following general field, these components interact in similar functions:

  • Bicarbonates, phosphates, and urea influence saliva pH and stabilizing ability.

  • Mucins and macromolecule proteins help to purify, accumulate, and/or bind oral microorganisms, as well as lead to plaque metabolism.

  • Calcium, phosphate, and proteins function together to modulate demineralization and remineralization by acting as an anti-solubility factor.

  • Antibacterial activity is provided by immunoglobulins, proteins, and enzymes. 

The contents of the saliva mentioned above are found in small quantities and differ with the flow, but they continue to perform a variety of important functions. 

It's important to emphasize that saliva, as a special biologic fluid, must be viewed as a whole that is greater than its parts.

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What is Saliva and Its Importance?

All the elements of saliva work together to assist you to eat, speak and keep your mouth clean every day. Here are just some of the many uses of saliva, as regarded by the American Dental Association (ADA):

  • Defending upon cavities

  • Wiping away food debris

  • Enabling you to swallow and taste

  • Retaining your teeth strong

Furthermore, saliva can be useful in the diagnosis of health problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, doctors may now use saliva to screen for HIV infection, and shortly, they will be able to use it to detect oral cancer and genetic conditions.

Since saliva is so vital to your oral and general health, if you have a lack of saliva supply, also known as dry mouth, you should see your dentist or doctor. According to the American Dental Association, sucking on sugar-free candy or gum will increase saliva production. However, if the condition continues, you can seek professional help to avoid experiencing more serious issues like tooth decay.

What Will I Do If I Don't Have Enough Saliva?

To keep your salivary glands safe and your mouth moist and relaxed, follow these tips:

  • Make sure you get enough water.

  • Gum that is sugar-free should be chewed.

  • Take a bite of sugar-free candy.

If your dry mouth continues, your doctor or dentist can suggest using artificial saliva to rinse your mouth. Artificial saliva is a liquid or spray that can be purchased over-the-counter. It can be used as many times as necessary. Artificial saliva keeps the mouth comfortable and moist. However, it lacks the proteins, minerals, and other substances that aid digestion found in real saliva.

What if You have Too Much Saliva?

Too much saliva is normally not a cause for concern until it continues. Depending on what you eat or drink, you can produce more or less saliva. Excess saliva is normally dealt with by swallowing more saliva.

You Can Get Too Much Saliva if:

  • One or more salivary gland is overactive

  • You have difficulties in swallowing

When you eat spicy foods, it's natural for your salivary glands to go into overdrive. The amount of saliva you produce is mostly determined by the taste buds on your tongue. When you eat something spicy or very sour, your taste buds react by asking your body to produce more saliva. Acidic foods cause a lot more saliva production than sweet foods. If you have a problem with excessive saliva, consider changing your diet.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have a lot of mouths that contain saliva all the time. It could be the outcome of a medical condition or illness, or it could be a side effect of a drug. You might feel like you have a lot of saliva in your mouth and drool if you have trouble swallowing. People with impaired facial and mouth muscle regulation are more likely to experience chronic drooling.

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FAQs on Saliva

1. What is Saliva and is Human Saliva Toxic?

Ans. The chemistry of saliva is a watery secretion released by the salivary glands in the mouth that aids in food digestion. Saliva also moistens and cleanses the mouth, including the tongue and teeth, and contains antimicrobial substances. Saliva moistens food and contains enzymes that start the digestion process. Human Saliva is an essential part of a healthy body. It is often made of water. But saliva also includes important substances that your body requires to digest food and maintain your teeth to be strong.

2. Is It True that Saliva Kills Bacteria?

Ans. The saliva contains the mouth's ecosystem in check. It has its own bacterial enzymes, which are good for our well-being. Lysosomes are an example of this. Saliva contains antibacterial agents that destroy bacteria in our mouths and protect us from diseases that could be deadly. Lysozyme is a bacteria-lysing enzyme that prevents oral microbial communities from overgrowing. 46–50 Starch digestion begins when the serous and acinar cells secrete an alpha-amylase enzyme that can begin to break down dietary starch into maltose.