Why Do We Have Saliva in Our Mouths?
When you take a bite of food, a watery fluid called “saliva” pours into your mouth. In fact, just looking at or smelling your favorite food, can make your mouth “water,” or produce saliva. Saliva is produced in special glands located in the mouth and cheeks.
They are called “salivary” glands. Saliva contains water and a sticky substance called “mucin,” which moistens the food so it can be swallowed easily.
It also contains the enzyme which changes the starch in food into easily digested sugars. When one is not eating, saliva helps keep the mouth moist.
These enzymes also play a role in breaking down food particles entrapped within dental crevices, protecting teeth from bacterial decay. Furthermore, saliva serves a lubricative function, protecting the mucosal surfaces of the oral cavity from desiccation.
Without normal salivary function the frequency of dental caries, gum disease (gingivitis), and other oral problems increases significantly.
Saliva coats the oral mucosa, mechanically protecting it from trauma during eating, swallowing and speaking. In people with little saliva (xerostomia), soreness of the mouth is very common, and the food (especially dry food) sticks to the inside of the mouth.
Saliva is very important in the sense of taste. It is the liquid medium in which chemicals are carried to taste receptor cells.