What it is made up of?
Saliva is made up of water, mucus, proteins, mineral salts and
amylase. As we said earlier, the saliva in the mouth is constantly
at work. What does it do, working like a workaholic? As it happens,
saliva is nature’s own cleaning system for your mouth. We do take
efforts to keep our mouths clean, but we cannot do it all the time
and saliva is nature’s way of ensuring it remains so for us. It
constantly circulates in the mouth and picks up any debris left
while eating, bacterial cells formed due to food particles have been
left in the mouth and the white blood cells that are automatically
released by the body to fight bacteria.
How it is produced?
Saliva is produced by three pairs of glands in the human body.
These are the parotid gland, sublingual gland and the submandibular gland. They are located between the bones of the ears
and the jaw, under the tongue and under the lower jaws respectively.
Do you want to know how active and sensitive these glands are? Well,
the moment you think of your favorite pizza or burger,
they are already in action. You begin to drool at the very thought
of your favorite food items because the glands have produced
The helpful enzymes
The water content in saliva is about ninety per cent. It also
contains about two per cent of enzymes. Ptyalin, the most important
of these enzymes, helps us digest the food that we chew and eat. As
we chew, the saliva merges with the food that is being eaten and it
helps to convert food into energy. It performs yet another important
task for us – that of helping the food move down the food pipe
Another of the enzymes, called lysozyme, is
in charge of the body’s security. It helps by killing any bacteria
that enter the mouth.
The functions of saliva are numerous. Primarily, it
lubricates and moistens the inside of the mouth, which in turn helps
speech and in changing food into a liquid or semisolid mass that can
be tasted and swallowed more easily. Helping the body maintain its
water balance is another function of saliva. When water is lacking,
the salivary glands become dehydrated and it consequently leaves a
feeling of dryness in the mouth, a condition that prompts the
feeling of thirst. Decaying of teeth and oral infection are reduced
to a large extent because saliva removes food debris, dead cells,
bacteria and white blood cells. An enzyme present in saliva, called
amylase chemically breaks down carbohydrates into simpler compounds.