Saliva, or spit, plays a significant role in maintaining oral health. It is derived from blood and acts as the bloodstream of the mouth. What this means is, like blood, saliva helps build and maintain the health of soft and hard tissues. When saliva flow is reduced oral health problems such as tooth decay and other oral infections can occur.
Saliva acts in the mouth like oil does in an engine. Tongue and lips movements are not smooth without enough saliva. Thus one finds it hard to speak and chew food, especially dry and hard food. Worse than that, one may not get the needed nutrients if chewing and swallowing certain foods are hampered. In addition, tooth decay or other infections in the mouth can develop.
What is Saliva?
Saliva is a liquid made of water, mucus, proteins, minerals, and an enzyme called amylase. It’s made by the salivary glands, many small organs around the cheeks, lips, tongue, and other parts of the mouth. Tiny tubes called ducts carry the saliva from the glands into your mouth. Small amounts of saliva are sent into the mouth constantly, to keep the mouth moist. Then your glands make lots of saliva, and you can notice much more of it in your mouth.
In addition to keeping your mouth healthy, saliva may contain indicators of health concerns as well. Since it shares many properties with blood, the use of saliva to detect and diagnose oral diseases and other diseases that could affect your general health is being studied. Researchers have reported promising results in the use of saliva for the diagnosis of a variety of medical conditions.
Functions of Saliva
Saliva has several important and essential roles in your health:
- Saliva helps digesting food
- Saliva protects teeth from decay
- Saliva lubricates the mouth and allows free movement of the jaws and tongue
- Saliva prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth
- Saliva makes it possible for you to chew and swallow
- Saliva prevents bad breath
Consult your Dentist for Care
The lack of saliva production can also affect an individual’s quality of life. Nutritional deficiencies may start to appear due to the effects of dry mouth. The effects of dry mouth may inhibit a patient’s consumption of certain foods and may require drinking more water to be able to swallow food. It may take the patient longer to eat. It is common for patients with a quantity dysfunction to suffer poor sleeping patterns.
Sleep is interrupted several times a night with the discomfort of mucosa “sticking” to teeth or the tongue “sticking” to the palate. Not only is saliva testing for dental professionals to assess risk and diagnose different dental diseases, but it’s also for the medical professional to aid in the diagnosis of risk factors for systemic diseases.