What Does Saliva Do?

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Your mouth is a complex place, full of tissues, bones, teeth, and other substances that you may not normally give much thought to. One of the most important elements of your mouth is your saliva, the clear liquid that’s made by glands in and around your mouth. Saliva is essential to a healthy mouth and body, and you may be surprised at the number of functions it has. Keep reading to learn about what saliva does and why it’s so important.

Provides Comfort
If you have ever gotten so thirsty that your mouth was dry, or felt nervous before a big presentation, you know that the absence of saliva can be downright uncomfortable. Saliva helps keep your mouth moist and comfortable, and gives you the lubrication you need when you’re speaking, chewing, and swallowing. Too little saliva is more than just uncomfortable—it can also have negative effects on your oral health. Dry mouth leads to swollen gums and tongue, and gives germs a place to thrive. These germs can cause bad breath, making your dry mouth more unpleasant for you and those around you.

Aids in Digestion
Saliva helps begin the digestion process by breaking food down while it’s still in your mouth. Certain enzymes in your saliva break down your food as you chew, making it easier to swallow and easier for your system to process. Without the right amount of saliva, chewing and swallowing become more difficult, and it also becomes harder to taste your food.

Protects Your Teeth
Though saliva is made mostly of water, it also contains proteins and minerals that help protect your tooth enamel. Saliva helps in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease by washing away food particles that are left behind when you’re done eating. Certain medical conditions and medications can affect how much saliva you produce, so be sure to give your dentist your full medical history.

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