Everyone has saliva and most people don’t give it a second thought. Sure it helps you swallow, but what else is it for? What’s it made of? What role does it play in our bodies? At Smile On Dental Studio in Richmond Heights, MO, we want our patients to understand just how exactly their bodies wash away bacteria from their mouths and why saliva is so essential for your oral health. Learn more about saliva with these interesting facts!

Saliva is Made Of Mostly Water

closeup of a beautiful woman's smileIf you’re wondering what saliva is made of, it’s 99% water. This is no surprise considering the body is made of 60% water. The remaining 1% of saliva contains digestive enzymes, uric acid, electrolytes, mucus-forming proteins, and cholesterol. The different compounds found in saliva help you break down food in your mouth, swallow it, and clean your teeth afterward.

Saliva can also help you fight off infections in your mouth.

There’s an Illegal South Africa Trade of Saliva

There are all kinds of items on the black market, but who would have thought that saliva was one of them? In South Africa, there is an illegal market for saliva infected with tuberculosis. The demand for saliva is to help healthy people pass off as suffering from tuberculosis in order to receive temporary disability equivalent to R1,010 per month from the government. People selling their saliva often make up to R500 per sample. For context, South Africa has some of the highest TB rates in the entire world with 78,000 deaths per year. In addition, townships filled with poverty, HIV, malnutrition, and cramped conditions help the disease thrive and spread. With high unemployment rates, it’s no wonder people are faking their illness to get assistance from the government.

There’s a Right Amount of Saliva For Your Mouth

Although your body produces saliva 24 hours a day, there is actually the right amount that your body produces. On average, the body produces anywhere from two to six cups per day with the most production during the afternoon and the least amount at night. Low saliva production is often the result of age or a side effect of certain medications and can cause bad breath as well as an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

It’s Affected By Fight or Flight Responses

When you experience high stress or anxiety levels, it makes your body go into fight or flight mode. During this time, your body senses the stress or danger and as a result, affects your saliva production. The digestive system will do everything in its power to conserve energy which involves shutting down saliva production. If you’re feeling stressed, scared, or anxious, you might notice that your mouth feels particularly dry.

Kissing Comes with Bacteria

You might think your mouth is clean after brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash, but your mouth is actually home to over 700 types of bacteria. Whenever you exchange saliva when you kiss someone (or share their drink), you’re inviting a whole lot of germs into your mouth. One study found that roughly 80 million bacteria transfer during a 10-second kiss. If you’re in a monogamous relationship, you and your partner will be happy to learn that it’s common to share the same types of bacteria.

Saliva is Essential for Tasting

It’s not just your taste buds that help you enjoy all the different flavors in your mouth, it’s also your saliva that assists with the process. Saliva works as a solvent that helps foods dissolve and distribute amongst taste buds. Saliva also keeps your taste buds moist which will keep them healthy so they can do their job.

There are Different Types of Spit

There isn’t just one type of saliva, there is five. This is primarily because saliva has five different phases:

  1. Cephalic – This happens when you see or smell something delicious
  2. Buccal – This is the body’s natural response to eating and aids in swallowing.
  3. Esophageal – The salivary glands get stimulated as food moves through the esophagus.
  4. Gastric – This type of saliva occurs when something bothers your stomach and you’re about to throw up.
  5. Intestinal – Lastly, this occurs when food doesn’t agree with you and it passes through your upper intestine.

Saliva Keeps You Healthy

Saliva is your body’s defense against bacteria in your mouth. It washes away bacteria and neutralizes the pH balance in your mouth. In addition, it can also fight off infections in wounds! There’s a reason for the saying “lick your wounds,” saliva actually contains infection-fighting white blood cells known as neutrophils. When you apply saliva to a wound, it gives your body backup protection.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy with Regular Dental Cleanings

In addition to saliva production, you also need regular dental cleanings to keep your mouth and teeth healthy! If you’re overdue for a dental exam or cleaning in St. Louis, please schedule an appointment at Smile On Dental Studio. We will help you maintain a healthy smile and address any issues that may prevent you from living your healthiest life yet. Call us at (314) 678-7876 to book an appointment today.