Why Is Saliva Important?
Saliva is an integral part of a healthy body and plays a vital role well beyond the mouth. You may be surprised to learn that saliva does several critical things for your body, and in some instances, it can even help identify illnesses, including some forms of cancer.
Research shows that it protects against gum disease, tooth decay and other oral infections. A thin film of fluid covers teeth and acts as a buffer against bacteria, while antimicrobial agents in saliva kill disease-causing bacteria.
As saliva moves around the mouth, it sweeps away small bits of food that feed the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and periodontal disease.
Saliva neutralizes acids in the mouth that break down tooth enamel by washing away acidic residue from eating. When acid damages enamel, saliva repairs the tooth’s protective surface in a process called remineralization. Calcium, phosphorous, fluoride and other minerals contained in saliva repair the enamel surfaces of teeth, keeping them healthy, strong and resistant to cavities.
Saliva also plays a vital role in digestion, thanks to an enzyme called amylase. Digestion begins in the mouth when amylase breaks down starch, maltose and dextrose into smaller molecules. It also helps you swallow food by making it wet and soft so that it can slide down your throat more easily.
But, saliva also has another vital role. It is an excellent indicator of the biomarkers that tell us what is happening within your body beyond oral health and periodontal disease. It can aid in the detection of severe and chronic illnesses.