Fun Facts about Saliva

People don’t usually like talking about saliva. After all, it’s what people use to spit with. While that’s a disgusting habit, saliva itself is anything but disgusting. In fact, it’s a vital part of the body’s digestive system, as well as a lubricant which actually makes food taste like food. So, rather than be squeamish about saliva, chew on these fun facts about this wonderful body product.

It’s mainly water

For all people get fixated on saliva, in actual fact you might just as well fuss about water. Saliva is actually 99.5% water. It’s produced by the salivary glands, which use water already stored in the body’s cells to form the vast majority of the lovely liquid. This performs the main function of lubrication, of course, and stops vital oral cavities from drying out.

Saliva packs a punch

Although that only leaves 0.5% to play with, the salivary glands manage to pack an awful lot of goodies into that small percentage. These include electrolytes, a pain killer, ten enzymes, hydrogen peroxide and some proteins. Oh, and mucus, of course. Like saliva, mucus is also a vital bodily product, which no-one likes talking about. However, the fact is that mucus protects some very sensitive internal surfaces.

Your saliva looks after your mouth

Saliva is vital for good oral health. People who don’t produce enough saliva are much more likely to develop cavities, gum disease and other problems. This is because saliva literally flushes out all the bits of food that can otherwise get stuck on the surface of teeth, or in the spaces in between. It also contains antibacterial enzymes, which help keep unwanted germs at bay inside the mouth.

People make a lot of it

People usually produce saliva without thinking about it. Of course, this can rise when talking about food, as the imagination kicks in. Generally speaking, however, your salivary glands work on their own. It’s estimated that the average person produces between 0.75 and 1.5 litres of saliva every day. That production slows when we’re asleep, however, as we don’t need it. It also slows dramatically when we’re nervous about something.

You can tell a lot from someone’s saliva

Because saliva is produced constantly, rather than stored, it is an excellent indicator of what’s in our bodies. The glands draw water from surrounding tissues, which are themselves supplied by our blood. The blood carries substances such as any alcohol we’ve been drinking, nicotine we’ve smoked, or even drugs we’ve taken. One test can show up these and many other signs of recent behaviour.

Be careful where you spit

There are different attitudes to expectorating (spitting) around the world. Famously, Singapore is one place you don’t want to get caught doing this in public. Repeated offenders risk being arrested. In other places, this habit is more common, even if illegal. Some countries, meanwhile, still have spittoons in public places, which is at least an attempt to manage the problem.

If you’d like more information on oral health, including the body’s own natural protection, get in touch with the friendly team here at Signal Hill Dental Centre.