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What do you need to know about Saliva?

Saliva, or spit, plays a significant role in maintaining oral health. Saliva comes from blood and coats the inner mouth. Saliva can help maintain and build the health of soft and hard tissues. The lack of saliva in your mouth can cause oral health problems such as tooth decay and other oral infections. Chewing causes saliva in your mouth to increase.

Benefits of saliva:

  • Helps moisten and break down food to ease swallowing and enhances the ability to taste.
  • Provides disease-fighting substances throughout your mouth to help prevent cavities and other infections.
  • Helps keep the surface of your teeth strong by providing high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions at the tooth surface.
  • Washes away food and debris from teeth and gums.

On the other hand, saliva can indicate of an individual has health concerns. Since saliva is well connected to your bloodstream, saliva can be used to detect and diagnose oral diseases.  Researchers have reported promising results in the use of saliva for the diagnosis of breast cancer, oral cancers, gum disease and viral hepatitis.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has targeted salivary diagnostics as an important area of development and is researching its many potential uses.

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