Saliva plays an often underappreciated role in maintaining a person’s oral health. You may find yourself wondering, ‘Do I have too much or not enough?’ The questions that should really be asked, however, are ‘What is the function of salivary glands?’ ‘What is Saliva?’ and ‘How does Saliva work?’ With a good understanding of the salivary system, you can take steps to improving your oral health and maintaining a perfect grin.
What Is The Function Of Saliva?
To put it in layman’s terms, the function of the salivary glands, located in and around the inside of the mouth, is to produce spit. The human mouth produces approximately 1.9L of spit each and every day. Any time you see or smell food, or consume a meal, the mouth produces enough salivary flow to help with chewing food and swallowing. This is why people say ‘That meal has made my mouth water!’
What is Saliva?
Saliva is composed of 98% water with the remaining 2% made up of mucus, enzymes, proteins and salts. These work in combination to break down foods and complex carbohydrate chains, lower the PH levels of acidic foods and kill bacteria.
Without it, your enamel would be melted off rather quickly, starches would not be broken down into sugars and you would be susceptible to a greater risk of oral infection and bad oral hygiene. Without saliva, your taste buds won’t function effectively. As a consequence, bad breath may ensue.
How Does Saliva Work?
Saliva is manufactured by pairs of glands located in the oral cavity – along the jaw and behind the ears, on the bottom of the mouth and near the front teeth under the tongue. It travels through a series of small tubes, called salivary ducts, which transport saliva into the mouth, lips and throat. There are six major and hundreds of minor salivary glands.
Salivary Glands and Health
There are two primary problems with salivary glands that can cause pain while eating. The first problem is trouble with the salivary gland itself, the second arises when spit is overproduced or underproduced.
Salivary stones can form when blockages occur in the system of ducts. This can lead to pain and swelling and may require surgery.
Increased saliva production can lead to drooling. When drooling occurs, it creates a link between the outside world and the inner mouth via saliva present externally. Pathogens that travel through liquid have a tendency to become problematic when there is too much spit being produced.
Furthermore, excessive production of saliva can lead to inflammation which can turn into sores when bacteria is present. This bacteria may result in indigestion or increase issues with circulation within the mouth.
A lack of saliva often makes food digestion less effective. A slow saliva flow can lead to dry mouth too. This may see you consuming less nutrients from food.
Slow saliva flow can also lead to blockages in intestinal tracts or stomach. Without enough saliva present, the mouth can also struggle with food breakdown, especially when large quantities are consumed. This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Contact Specialist Kids Dentist Today
If you’re worried about your children’s salivary glands or amount of saliva being produced, contact Specialist Kids Dentist today to book a consultation. Call us today on (02) 9600 6848 between 8:00AM and 5:00PM to make your appointment.