8 Fun Facts About Saliva

8 Fun Facts About Saliva
Posted on 09/30/2018
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Eight Fun Facts About Saliva


Everyone is familiar with saliva, but not many people know its true purpose or even how it is produced. It turns out the moistness in our mouths in our mouths plays an integral role in our overall health and daily routines. These are some interesting facts about saliva you may not know.

Spit Keeps You Healthy


There are many ways your spit benefits your everyday health. For example, the idiom “lick your wounds” was derived from its ability to fight infection thanks to a white blood cell, called neutrophils, present in spit.1 Saliva also helps prevent cavities due to its high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate.2

Saliva is Mostly Water


Considering the human body is 60 percent water, it may not be surprising that saliva is also mostly water.3 It turns out saliva is about 99 percent water – the remaining one percent consists of electrolytes, digestive enzymes, uric acid, cholesterol and mucus-forming proteins.4

Saliva is Illegally Traded in South Africa


Tuberculosis (TB) is a big problem in parts of South Africa. Residents who have the disease are often unable to work and are eligible to receive benefits from the government. Many unemployed South Africans are so desperate for aid they pay nearly $10 for bottles of TB-infected saliva.5

There Are Different Types of Spit

There are five types of saliva, each with its own purpose:6

  • Cephalic – Produced when you see, smell or think about a really tasty meal
  • Buccal – Produced after taking a bite to help swallow solids
  • Esophageal – Produced as food moves through your esophagus
  • Gastric – Produced before vomiting
  • Intestinal – Produced when passing food that irritates your intestines

You Need Saliva to Taste


It is common knowledge that you rely on taste buds to enjoy a good meal, but did you know you actually need to salivate as well? Your spit acts as a solvent, dissolving foods and distributing them to the taste receptors on the tongue. It also keeps taste buds moist and healthy so they can do their job.7

Kissing and Bacteria


Your mouth may feel clean, but it is actually home to more than 700 types of bacteria. When you swap spit with another human, you are inviting even more germs into your mouth. One study found that a 10-second kiss could transfer roughly 80 million bacteria. Monogamous kissers will be happy to hear that couples are more likely to share the same types of bacteria.8

Saliva and “Fight or Flight”


If you have ever experienced high levels of anxiety or stress, you may have noticed your mouth becoming extremely parched. This is not a coincidence. When the brain senses danger or stress, the digestive system, including saliva production, shuts down to conserve energy in a process referred to as the “fight or flight” response.9

There is a Right Amount of Spit


Your body is always producing saliva – most during the afternoon and least at night. It all adds up to about two to six cups per day. Malfunctioning salivary glands or frequent dry mouth can alter your production. Low amounts of saliva can cause bad breath and an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Oral Health Care in St. Louis


There is certainly a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to saliva. While it can help maintain a healthy, clean mouth, nothing replaces quality dental care. Ballas Dental Care are the premier dentists in the St. Louis area, offering a variety of treatments.

Call 314-432-5544 or visit us online to schedule an appointment.