Saliva: It’s More Than Just Spit
You probably don’t think too much about it or you may even think it is gross, but saliva is important to your oral health. It also can give doctors clues about what’s going on in your body. Saliva is mostly water, but it also contains electrolytes, bacteria, viruses, fungi, secretions from your nose and lungs, cells from the lining of your mouth and about 500 proteins. What’s in your saliva also depends on what you’ve put in your mouth lately – it could be food debris or leftover toothpaste. You have two types of saliva. It can be a watery substance that clears food and dead cells from your mouth’s lining or a thicker secretion that helps food form into a ball so it can be swallowed. In addition, saliva:
- Helps you taste what you eat and drink and helps digest food.
- Cleans food and bacteria from the teeth to prevent tooth decay.
- Keeps the skin around your mouth moist and aids in swallowing.
- Contains compounds that destroy or prevent the growth of certain microbes, especially fungi.