While you probably know that saliva plays an important role in your oral health and wellness, you may not know just how important it really is. If you’ve never really given much thought to saliva before, you’ll enjoy these surprising saliva facts.
Saliva is Mainly Water
Since saliva is so slippery, many people don’t realize that it’s mainly just water. The vast majority of saliva is water while the remainder of it is made up of natural hormones, proteins, minerals, and small remnants of whatever you’ve recently had to eat or drink.
Saliva Plays Several Vital Roles in the Mouth
Saliva plays several vital roles in the mouth. It acts as a protector for your teeth and your gums. It also helps keep the mouth properly lubricated — without saliva, you’d have a chronic problem with dry mouth. Saliva plays the most crucial role in maintaining the pH balance within your mouth. By keeping your pH balance healthy, saliva prevents problems like loss of tooth enamel, tooth disease, and gum disease. People who suffer from breathing disorders like COPD or sleep apnea often have too little saliva in their mouth while they sleep, mainly due to sleeping with an open mouth. This lack of saliva can mean that the teeth are unprotected, which is the reason that people who breathe with their mouth open while sleeping have a higher tendency towards tooth and gum disease.
Saliva Helps You Process Food
Saliva plays a very important role in the breakdown of the food that you eat. Having a healthy amount of saliva actually has a connection with processing the less-than-healthy foods so they can be eliminated from your body. The enzymes within your saliva are uniquely suited to target starches and fats, breaking them down so they can be processed by your digestive system.
You Produce More Saliva Than You Might Think
Although saliva production from one person to another does vary, the average person generates enough saliva to fill an entire bathtub in a year — two times over! Since you swallow and eliminate so much saliva every day without really being aware of it, it may seem shocking that your body actually produces that much. This amount of saliva production is quite normal — and in fact it’s very healthy for your body.
Saliva Can Play a Role in Disease Diagnosis
Saliva often plays an important role in the diagnosis of disease. A quick and simple swab inside your mouth can give the doctor a sample that yields valuable information. Certain proteins within the saliva are indicative of disease — and if those proteins are found, it can allow for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Physicians often use saliva samples to determine risk of heart disease and other controllable diseases today as well. Saliva testing has made it much easier for both patients and doctors to get the information that they need today.
Chewing Gum Encourages Saliva Production
Chewing gum encourages additional saliva production. While any type of gum can cause a saliva increase, it’s highly recommended that you stick with sugar-free gum only. Thanks to the increase in healthy saliva, people who regularly chew sugar-free gum may have less cavities on average than those who don’t chew gum at all.
Saliva Has Healing Properties
Many people are surprised to learn that saliva actually has healing properties. Dogs, cats, and other animals instinctively know this. Have you ever noticed a pet licking a wound constantly? By doing so, they’re trying to place saliva on the wound because it will help it heal more quickly. As humans, we get to benefit from the healing power of saliva as well, but only within the mouth. Saliva is full of antibodies that kill germs while encouraging cellular growth. Due to this, you might notice that when you have a wound within your mouth it heals more quickly than a wound anywhere else would.
The team at Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida is here to help with all of your pediatric dentistry needs. Our goal is gentle care, delivered by experienced caregivers. We offer regular check-ups, teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, orthodontics, tooth colored fillings, emergency dental care, and much more. Request an appointment today!