What is Saliva?
Saliva comes from your salivary glands and is very useful.
Saliva is excreted primarily from three pairs of salivary glands, those being the parotid glands, the submandibular glands, and the sublingual glands. There are also minor or auxiliary salivary glands on the inside of the cheeks, the lips, the roof of the mouth, and your tongue. Their total production per day is approximately 1-2 liters. Saliva is composed primarily of water and other substances like proteins and mucous. Other than water, the most important component is the enzyme called amylase. This is a digestive enzyme and the mouth is where the digestive process begins. The greatest majority of the salivary production comes from the submandibular glands under the tongue.
A moist mouth, which is made even more so, in the presence of food, helps mold the food into a bolus which can then be easily swallowed. It also lubricates the throat and esophagus for easy swallowing. Saliva also helps maintain the water balance for the entire body. If the mouth is dry, the person is more likely to drink liquids to quench the thirst, therefore maintaining the water balance. Most folks do not realize that a moist mouth is mandatory to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Folks who have extensive radiation, take a wide variety of medication, or drink too much alcohol, often exhibit a dry mouth, technically known as xerostomia. Artificial saliva is required in the case of a dry mouth. Some of the products to aid with this are Biotene, ACT, Saliva Substitute, Oasis, Aquoral Artificial Spray, and others. Sometimes production of saliva may be stimulated by sialogogues, which enhance salivary flow.
The flow of saliva may be restricted by a number of causes. Benign or malignant tumors may restrict the flow and will need immediate attention. Usually tumors are associated with only one side, whereas, infections, such as mumps, are associated with both sides. Stones or lyths also block the flow of saliva and must be treated. Alcoholics, diabetics, and HIV patients. usually have salivary gland problems.
Another important fact is that saliva aids in removing the remaining food particles as well as reducing the amount of dental plaque, which directly reduces the amount of calculus which forms. Therefore, saliva indirectly reduces that amount of bone loss which may occur around the teeth. It also aids in the health of the taste buds.
Life Member of American Dental Association, Emeritus Fellow of Academy of General Dentistry, American Association of Implant Dentistry