What Are the Major Functions of Saliva?

Your saliva plays an instrumental role in your oral health. Saliva helps protect your teeth and gums from harmful bacteria, and can reduce your risk for cavities. However, saliva has other major functions in both your oral cavity and even your digestion, so preventing dry mouth can be an essential part of supporting your health.

Did you know that the saliva glands in your oral cavity produce over four cups of saliva every day [1]? Read on to discover the major roles of saliva as well as more fun facts about your spit!

Supports Chewing and Swallowing

Saliva helps you to chew and swallow, making eating easier and reducing your risk for choking [2]. Without saliva, eating certain foods would be nearly impossible. In addition to moistening the oral cavity to support proper chewing and swallowing, saliva also contains the digestive enzyme amylase that helps begin breaking down food in the mouth.

Fun fact: Did you know that saliva also affects your taste buds? If you suffer from dry mouth, foods may taste differently to you. Staying hydrated can help you properly taste food by supporting adequate saliva flow in the oral cavity!

Balances Oral Bacteria

One of the most crucial aspects of saliva is that it helps balance oral bacteria. Without saliva, the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay, gum disease, and even fungal infections can proliferate, making your oral cavity more acidic [3]. Saliva helps keep your mouth at a healthy pH level, essentially neutralizing acids and supporting a healthy smile!

Fun fact: When you sleep, your saliva glands don’t produce as much spit, which causes bacteria to build up in your mouth—this is what causes unpleasant morning breath!

Helps Remove Food Particles

Saliva actually helps clean your mouth, removing food particles and carbohydrates that would otherwise stick to teeth and potentially cause tooth enamel damage [4]. Without saliva, your tooth enamel—which protects the softer tissues of your teeth—is more at risk to be damaged by acids and bacteria from leftover bits of food in your mouth.

Fun fact: Your saliva is about 99 percent water, but it also contains electrolytes, minerals, enzymes, and proteins that help nourish your teeth and protect your oral cavity.

How Can You Support Your Saliva?

The best way to support proper saliva flow in your oral cavity is by drinking enough water.
Although the amount of water you need will vary depending on your weight, activity level, and even the temperature outside, you should aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

If you suffer from dry mouth—which can happen as the result of certain illnesses, medications, or even from age—it’s essential to work with your physician to help remedy the problem. In the meantime, sipping water throughout the day can help keep your oral cavity moist and reduce your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

Did you know some of these facts about the major functions of saliva? Your spit is more essential to your oral health than you may think—so stay hydrated, visit your dentist, and keep smiling!

Sources:
1. https://www.eufic.org/en/healthy-living/article/saliva-more-than-just-water-in-your-
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3497964
3. https://www.thejpd.org/article/S0022-3913(01)54032-9/fulltext#s0025
4. http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/pregastric/salivary.html

Summary
Article Name
What Are the Major Functions of Saliva?
Description
Did you know that the saliva glands in your oral cavity produce over four cups of saliva every day? Read on to discover the major roles of saliva as well as more fun facts about your spit!
Author
Orangevale Dental