By James F. Pechloff, DDS
December 02, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: saliva  

While you may not realize how important such an everday part of life can be, saliva plays an important role in the overall mechanical function of the mouth, and contributes to maintaining proper oral health.

The glands that make saliva are referred to as salivary glands. They can be found inside each cheek, near your front teeth, and at the bottom of your mouth. The human mouth has six major salivary glands and hundreds of minor glands. Saliva enters the mouth through salivary ducts. When you chew it causes muscles to compress the salivary glands and release saliva. Chewing is seen as the most efficient way to activate salivary production.

Saliva is important because it:

  • Keeps your mouth comfortable with lubrication
  • Helps clean your teeth and gums from food and debris
  • Helps your body with chewing, and swallowing by making the food moist and binding it together.
  • Fights germs that cause bad breath by keeping the mouth moist, making it uninhabitable to the germs.
  • Protects tooth enamel and prevents tooth decay by providing high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate.
  • Prevents cavities and other infections by providing disease-fighting substance
  • Shields the stomach lining from gastric acid secretion
  • Dilutes and buffers the acid generated from the plaque.
Saliva also can contain signs of certain health problems. Doctors can use saliva to detect and diagnose certain oral and non-oral diseases. This is because saliva shares many properties with the blood in your body. Recent research has provided reports showing that saliva can be used in the diagnosis of breast cancer, oral cancers, gum disease, and viral hepatitis. Saliva is already being used in the testing for HIV.
The body normally produces around 2 to 4 pints of saliva a day. While everyone is different, you may be producing too much or too little saliva. Either of these can cause unwanted health problems. If you have more questions about saliva or your oral health call Dr. James Pechloff at 414-475-5505.