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Why Is Saliva Important?

Saliva. It’s not really a pleasant topic - in fact, it can be kind of gross. But very few people know much about it or why our bodies create it. So, what is saliva? Why do we get it? What is its purpose? Here’s everything you ever wanted to know (and maybe some stuff you didn’t) about saliva.

What Is Saliva?

Created in the salivary glands and by both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve system, saliva is that clear fluid that keeps your mouth moist. It is made up of about 99 percent water, but also contains mucous, epithelial and white blood cells, electrolytes, and enzymes.

Why Do We Create Saliva?

Believe it or not, saliva does have several very important purposes. First, it keeps your mouth lubricated and aids in digestion by lubricating the food you eat. This makes it easier to chew and swallow your food.

When you’re not eating, saliva keeps your mouth from drying out, which helps you speak and can even help you breathe. It also helps break down plaque and food particles in your teeth, keeping your teeth clean and your breath fresh.

Saliva even helps your taste buds do their job by allowing you to taste your food.

Cool Facts About Saliva

Did you know that when saliva is generated by the parasympathetic nervous system, it is more water, and when it’s generated by the sympathetic nervous system it's much thicker? Also, saliva generated by the sympathetic nervous system is said to aid in respiration (breathing), while parasympathetic-generated saliva occurs to stimulate digestion - probably why when you see appetizing food they say your mouth waters!

Another cool fact? It is estimated that the average person generates upwards of 1.5 liters of saliva a day, but almost none of that while they’re asleep!

Now that you know how important saliva is, make sure you pay attention to your own saliva production. If your mouth frequently feels dry or uncomfortable, speak to Dr. Abelar about your options. There are many medical reasons you may experience dry mouth, but there are also plenty of options to fix this and keep your mouth feeling fresh and hydrated round the clock.

To speak to Dr. Abelar or schedule an exam, please call 858-866-9692.

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