Let’s face it…saliva gets no respect.  Most people think of it only as drool or slobber instead of the vital part of oral health that it truly is.  With that in mind…I give you “10 things you probably didn’t know about saliva/spit.”

10) Saliva is about 98% water.  The rest of saliva is made up of electrolytes, mucous and various enzymes.

9) Llamas often spit at attackers when they feel threated and will spit at each other to help establish their pecking order.

8 ) Chemical digestion of food begins in the mouth with the enzyme amylase, which is contained in the saliva.  Amylase breaks complex carbohydrates (starches) into smaller carbohydrates (sugars).  You might notice that potato can taste sweet as it’s being chewed and this is due to the action of amylase.

Saliva_7_120847) Saliva (pictured) is a rock band that formed in Memphis in 1996.  They are best known for their 2001 metal/hip hop crossover “Click Click Boom.”

6) The bacteria in human plaque turn the sugary foods that we eat into acid.  This acid, as well as acids from the foods we eat, can cause a drop in the pH of our mouths which is the cause of cavities in our teeth. Enzymes found in saliva help to neutralize these pH changes and maintain a healthy acid/base balance in our mouth.

5) Saliva contains many antibacterial compounds like lysozyme, lactoferrin and peroxidase.  There is some animal research that suggests that wounds licked with saliva heal faster than those that aren’t. These studies were not conducted in humans although it is interesting to note that wounds inside the mouth tend to heal much faster than those on skin (external to the mouth).

4) Saliva carries Calcium and Phosphate ions which help to reverse damage done on the tooth surface (“pre-cavities”)
by bacterial acids.

Dungeness Spit3) A spit is a kind of a land form or sand bar that develops when the direction of the shoreline turns inland or “reenters.”  This causes currents and waves to drop the sediment they are carrying and forms a kind of a depositional sand bar.  The largest spit in the U.S. is called the Dungeness Spit (pictured) and it is located in Sequim, WA.

2) Saliva serves to lubricate the lips, tongue, cheeks and other parts of the mouth.  If you’ve ever had a dry mouth you know that it can be hard to speak or swallow when you’re low on saliva.  Many people with certain illnesses or taking certain medications suffer from chronic dry mouth, called xerostomia, which puts them at greater risk for cavities and other dental problems.

1) A healthy human creates between .75 and 1.5 liters of saliva every day.  Salivary flow is reduced to almost zero during sleep which is one very good reason to brush and floss just prior to going to bed.

I hope this primer has given you a different perspective about saliva.  The next time you hold a drooling baby or notice your mouth water at some delicious aroma you can be thankful for it’s important role!

If you have any questions about this post or any other tooth/mouth related questions for that matter, drop me an email at alan@meadfamilydental.com.  I would be happy to reply or even better, I’d love you help you with all of your dental health needs!  Feel free to call and make an appointment at (989) 799-9133!