Saliva is essential for our overall health, especially that of the mouth and digestive system. While producing too much saliva usually is not a bad thing, producing too little can be uncomfortable and lead to oral health concerns. Some artificial saliva-like products can provide some relief from a condition called “dry mouth,” but nothing compares to the real deal. This substance is special for many different reasons, and you may be surprised to learn some of these fun and interesting facts about saliva.
#1: A Bathtub or Two
Most adults generate about two to three pints of saliva every day, which adds up to a considerable amount over time. The average person can produce enough saliva to fill up to two bathtubs every year! To make sure you are creating enough saliva to maintain optimal oral health, drink at least eight glasses of water daily.
#2: Built-In Tooth Protection
The mucins in saliva lubricate the teeth, which can help protect them from the effects of bacteria and acidic foods. Enjoying sugar-free gum or hard candies can boost saliva production and protect your teeth. Saliva creates a barrier between the teeth and harmful factors reduces the risk of developing cavities and enamel corrosion.
#3: The First Step of the Digestion Process
While we understand that the bulk of digestion occurs in the stomach and intestines, the process actually begins in the mouth. Saliva contains enzymes that kick-start digestion by breaking down food, specifically starch and fat, as we chew. It also moistens the food for comfortable swallowing.
#4: Not Just Water
It may seem like a basic liquid, but saliva is complex. Although it is mostly made up of water, it contains components that fight oral bacteria buildup and help prevent bad breath, which is also known as “halitosis.” Saliva even contains a full sample of your DNA, including information about genetic disorders and gene sequencing.
#5: Where Is It Coming From?
Saliva is produced by the salivary glands, which are located throughout the mouth. There are salivary glands in the cheeks, close to the front of the mouth, under the tongue, and at the back of the throat. If you experience pain or swelling near these areas, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist to check for salivary stones or other related conditions.