Chances are you don’t give your saliva a great deal of thought. If your salivary glands didn’t produce saliva, however, you would not only notice it, but your life would be quite difficult.
Let’s take a look at some mouth-watering fun facts about saliva.
99 Percent Water
Saliva consists of around 99 percent water. The thick consistency and glistering appearance of saliva are due to the presence of mucus. Saliva also contains buffering agents and proteins. Another essential ingredient of saliva is enzymes, which aid in the first stages of digestion.
During your lifetime, your salivary glands will produce 23,659 liters of saliva, which is enough to fill two standard-sized swimming pools. In one year, you can fill two bathtubs with your saliva. Salivary glands produce the most saliva during the afternoons and the least amount during the evenings.
Saliva plays a pivotal role in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. One of the buffering agents in saliva is sodium bicarbonate that neutralizes the acids that bacteria produces.
Saliva also forms a protective layer around your teeth to prevent the loss of minerals, to attract calcium ions, and to keep your teeth healthy. The antimicrobial peptides in saliva also inhibit the development of bacteria and microbes like Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans.
If you have a soft-tissue injury inside your mouth, saliva slows down the clotting time and assists in healing the wound.
Keeps Your Mouth Moist
The fact that saliva keeps your mouth moist is far more significant than you may realize. Talking and forming sounds with your tongue and lips would be impossible if you didn’t have saliva in your mouth.
Saliva also prevents food that you swallow from damaging your esophagus or any other organ and tissue. Saliva production levels also let you know when you are thirsty. If the water levels in your body are low, saliva production decreases and incentivizes you to drink more water.
The presence of saliva also allows you to taste food because food molecules have to dissolve in saliva before taste buds recognize it. Another fun fact is that your salivary glands produce a lot of saliva just before you throw up to aid in the digestion of the bolus.
Saliva contains a person’s entire genetic blueprint. It is also a form of DNA-extraction that is easier to work with than any other method. A single drop of saliva contains a sufficient DNA sample to determine your complete genetic makeup.
When you have a saliva DNA sample, you can freeze it, thaw it several times, send it to someone else via mail, and extract high-quality DNA.
Natural Pain Killer
There is a substance called opiorphin in your saliva that, according to some sources, is six times more potent than morphine.
If your mouth is always dry, it may be an indication of a health condition like type 2 diabetes. A healthcare provider can also scan for a specific protein to determine your risk for heart disease.
As you can see, your saliva is a drastically under-appreciated body fluid with a myriad of purposes. We’ll drink—water—to that!