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Saliva: Important in food digestion and swallowing

What is saliva

Saliva is a homogeneous mixture of secretions produced mainly by the salivary and minor oral glands, which play a dual role: participation in the digestion process and facilitating the swallowing of food.

Saliva Characteristics

Saliva is a clear, viscous, alkaline liquid (pH between 6 and 7) containing in its composition: 95% water, 3% organic substances and 2% mineral salts. In addition, it also has two types of protein secretion: a serous, rich ptial secretion, which contributes to starch digestion; another mucous secretion, which contains mucin, a lubricating element that facilitates chewing and the passage of the food bolus through the esophagus through swallowing.

Saliva Functions

About 0.5 ml of saliva is secreted every minute, except during sleep, when secretion is scarce. Saliva plays an important role in maintaining oral tissues as it exerts a cleansing effect by dragging food substances and pathogenic microorganisms that if not removed would contribute to the emergence of dental caries, infections and tissue deterioration. In addition, it also has proteolytic enzymes and protein antibodies that destroy oral bacteria.