6 Ways Saliva Helps You
The next time you go to spit on the ground – think twice – you are wasting a valuable asset! Luckily, the average person produces about 1.5 litres of saliva (spit) each day. That is 45 litres per month, so there is still enough to spit out once in a while. Saliva is produced by 3 glands in your mouth. These glands are found in your cheeks (between your ear and nose), on the floor of your mouth near your lower molar teeth, and under your tongue.
Although your spit (saliva) is 99.5% water, it has many important functions.
1. Saliva neutralizes acids that can erode teeth. Saliva not only helps to dilute acids in the mouth, but it will actually neutralize it due to its alkalinity (alkaline is the opposite of acid – one will cancel out the other. This neutralization of the acid will help to minimize the harmful effect of acid on the teeth. Acids found in our mouths can be from several sources:
- Plaque bacteria on your teeth produces acids.
- Acids are found in many of the beverages and foods that we consume.
- Acid can get into our mouth through acid-reflux from the stomach, or from vomiting.
2. Saliva helps maintain tooth integrity. Demineralization occurs when acids attack the tooth enamel (outer layer of tooth). When the acids try to dissolve the enamel the buffering capacity of saliva inhibits the demineralization and helps to prevent a cavity from forming. Saliva also contains minerals that help to keep teeth strong. When an acid attack takes place, saliva will first neutralize the acid. If demineralization has taken place on the tooth, the saliva will then start to remineralize the tooth by strengthening the weakened area with the calcium and phosphate minerals it contains.
3. Saliva plays an important role in preventing tooth decay. Saliva contains antimicrobial enzymes (such as lysozyme) which kill some bacteria. Saliva has been shown to slow the growth of a cavity-causing strain of bacteria known as streptococcus mutans.
4. Saliva strengthens newly-erupted teeth. When teeth first erupt, the enamel on them isn’t fully developed. The calcium, phosphate and fluoride present in saliva help to fill in the weak parts of the new enamel and make the teeth strong.
5. Saliva aids in eating, swallowing and digestion. Unless food is moistened by saliva, it cannot be properly tasted or chewed. Dry food is very difficult to swallow if not moistened by saliva. It can tear the lining of the throat. Liquid is needed to be able to swallow. Saliva rinses away any extra food that may be stuck on your teeth. Saliva contains the enzyme amylase and as well as lipase, which aid in digestion as well. Food that is not moistened by saliva is also difficult for the stomach to process or digest. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saliva#Digestion
6. Saliva aids in speech. Normal speech is actually impossible without saliva. Speaking dries out the mouth, so that is why you often see people giving speeches taking sips of water.