What is saliva? Well, besides the drool that “salivates” from our mouths when we see something appetizing, its purpose goes deeper than that. Saliva is a combination of bodily water and mucous substances. At times, it is the source of our bad breath, and at other times, it’s hardly there at all—but the importance of saliva is guaranteed. Here are some facts about saliva and why it’s crucial to your oral health.
The Importance of Saliva
You Can’t Digest Food Without Saliva
It’s a common saying that digestion begins in the mouth. That statement is true because saliva actually helps break down food more than most people realize. Saliva not only softens food with its moisture, but it also contains enzymes that eat away at substances. That is the same reason your teeth tend to be more delicate after you eat.
Take for example when you eat saltine crackers without any water. It’s a really difficult process, right? The same would go for any food if you didn’t have saliva to help break it down for you.
The importance of saliva begins with digestion.
Without Saliva, Your Mouth Would be a Bacterial Cesspool
Your saliva is highly acidic. Not only is it enough to help break down food quickly, but it also helps eat the leftovers as well. Without the powerful cleansing abilities of your saliva, your mouth would become infectious, and you’d get very ill. Since your saliva contains special proteins and minerals, it effectively protects your tooth enamel and cleans your mouth.
Saliva Keeps Your Mouth Comfortable
If you’ve had dry mouth, or cotton mouth, you know how uncomfortable it is. It is a constant nuisance, and the feeling of dryness can even make you feel a little self-conscious. It can also make trivial tasks like eating and speaking much more difficult.
Dry mouth can also be a little painful if you don’t take care of it. Just like your lips can chap, so can the inside of your mouth, if it gets dry enough. The importance of saliva is obvious—it keeps your mouth moist and prevents it from drying up and cracking. This can lead to infection. An open wound in your mouth without the powerful cleansing power of your saliva can be dangerous.
Food Would Be Tasteless Without It
What kind of life would this be if we couldn’t taste all our favorite foods? As it turns out, we have our saliva to thank for that. Our taste buds have receptors that can’t detect the taste-creating chemicals within the food until they are broken down well enough to be detected.
Our saliva aids this process in two different ways. First of all, saliva contains the proteins that break down these chemicals, creating taste as soon as it gets to our taste buds. Second, saliva, as a liquid flowing throughout our mouths, covers all of our receptors with these chemicals. The result is an otherwise mundane, but enjoyable everyday activity we couldn’t live without.
Your Oral Health Is Our Number One Priority
Us here at Balle and Associates understand the importance of saliva and all the ways saliva helps maintain your oral health. It is our goal to keep your mouth as healthy as possible, so schedule an appointment with us soon.