What is Saliva?

baby saliva

Saliva is that slippery liquid in your mouth that keeps your tongue moist and your teeth shiny. But have you ever wondered what saliva really is? It’s not just water, that’s for sure. Saliva is actually a complex fluid that plays a vital role in our biology.

What is the Importance of Saliva?

Saliva is important for several reasons. For one, it helps us digest food. Saliva contains an enzyme called amylase that breaks down starch into sugars. This is why when you chew bread, it starts to taste sweet after a while. 

Saliva also helps us speak and swallow. Without enough saliva, our mouths can become dry and our speech can become slurred. Saliva also contains antimicrobial agents that help keep our mouths clean and healthy.

What Enzyme is in Saliva?

The main enzyme in saliva is amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates. But there are also other enzymes in saliva that help break down proteins and fats. For example, lipase breaks down fats, while pepsin breaks down proteins.

Saliva also contains bicarbonate, which helps neutralise the acid in your mouth. This is important because that acid can erode the enamel on our teeth, leading to cavities and tooth decay.

What Is The Phobia of Saliva Called?

It’s not uncommon to be a bit grossed out by spit, but for some people, the apprehension goes into phobia territory. It’s called sialophobia. Now, if you suffer from this condition, you might want to stay away from people who talk with a lot of spit, like those enthusiastic storytellers who always seem to have a little bit of spittle flying out of their mouths.

What Does It Mean When Your Saliva Is Thick and Sticky?

Saliva can even reveal a lot about our health. For example, if you have a dry mouth, it could be a sign of dehydration or a side effect of medication. If your saliva is thick and sticky, it could be a sign of dehydration or an underlying health condition.

Tongue covered in saliva

Fun Facts About Saliva

  • Did you know that the average person produces about 1-2 litres of saliva each day? That’s a lot of spit!
  • Saliva also has some unique properties. For example, it can help heal wounds in the mouth faster. This is because saliva contains growth factors that promote the growth of new tissue.
  • Saliva also contains antibodies that can help fight off infections. This is why when you have a sore throat, your doctor might tell you to gargle with saltwater. The salt water helps stimulate saliva production, which in turn helps fight off the infection.
  • Saliva isn’t always a good thing. When we’re nervous or stressed, we tend to produce more saliva. This can lead to embarrassing situations, like when you’re giving a speech and suddenly start drooling.
  • Scientists are studying saliva as a non-invasive way to diagnose diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. They’re also looking at the possibility of using saliva as a way to deliver medications.

From its ability to help us digest food to its potential for medical research, saliva’s a pretty big deal. So next time you’re drooling over your favourite dish or trying to make small talk with a cute stranger, remember to give a nod to the unsung hero of the oral world.

If you’re thinking about getting orthodontic treatment, then contact us for a free consultation today to discuss your orthodontic treatment options!

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