We just have to spit it out: while saliva may get a bad rep for being a bodily fluid we’d prefer to keep to ourselves, it has various important functions that are oftentimes dismissed. You may have never thought about being grateful for your spit, but believe it or not, saliva production is not only an important factor in your dental health, but it is one way that the body communicates a variety of responses to us. Let’s start spitballing some fun facts about saliva!
1. Saliva makes your food tastier
Saliva is what allows us to dissolve our food. In order for our taste buds to work, food has to be dissolved and broken down before the taste bud receptors can get to work. Not only does saliva allow for the taste receptors to do their job, it actually keeps these receptors from drying out and keeps them clean, decreasing the chance of infection. You may notice that when your mouth is dry, you have a harder time tasting your favorite foods– only one reason why spit is pretty sweet (and sour, salty, bitter, you get it)!
2. Saliva acts as a natural painkiller
Research has found that saliva contains opiorphin, a compound that is sited to prolong our body’s defenses against pain. Opiorphin ultimately helps to activate the opiate receptors that block pain signals. The opiate receptors help to keep these pain signals from reaching our brain. This may be one reason why it is instinctual for animals to lick a wound to help it heal. It is also the reason why any wounds we have in our mouth tend to heal faster than other areas of our body.
3. Stress decreases saliva production
When our body responds to stress, it goes into fight-or-flight mode. Fight-or-flight mode allows us to save up all of our energy to either run away or fight danger. While we don’t have to outrun bears as often in today’s world, there are plenty of situations that activate our stress response in order to give us the energy needed to manage. Your blood pressure and heart rate go up while energy dedicated to digestion slows down, causing saliva production to decrease. You will notice that increased stress leads to a dryer mouth. This is another good reason to engage in stress reducing self-care– it ends up helping your dental hygiene!
4. Saliva production is on a schedule
Saliva follows a circadian rhythm of it’s own! While we might notice drool when we wake up, our body actually knows to slow down the production of saliva when it’s dark out. Even though this may be one reason “morning breath” can be brutal, our body knows to speed up our spit cycle once we wake up. This helps with the breakdown of bacteria that builds up over night, helping in the fight against tooth decay.
While it may seem obvious, saliva is a huge component in dental hygiene. Saliva helps protect teeth against bacteria, reduces the chance of cavities, helps to shield our teeth from acidic foods and does a whole lot to keep your mouth fighting dental troubles.
If you have notice frequently having a dry mouth or feeling dehydrated, give Krengel Dental a call (952-888-1311) and one of our friendly staff members will help get you answers to having a healthier mouth and smile.