The saliva It is a liquid secretion from the salivary glands that extends throughout all regions of the mouth except the gum and the anterior area of the palate. Saliva mixes with crevicular fluid, microorganisms, cells of the oral mucosa, etc.
The major salivary glands produce 93% of their volume and the minor salivary glands the remaining 7%.
This liquid is composed of organic components and inorganic components. The organic components are proteins, glycoproteins, enzymes and immunoglobulins, while among the inorganic components there are bicarbonate and phosphate (which are responsible for neutralizing the acids that cause tooth decay). Water represents 99.5% of saliva and allows food to dissolve and taste better through the sense of taste.
Saliva, together with other elements such as gingival secretion or food particles make up a liquid known as oral fluid, which helps the creation of the food bolus and protects the oral structures.
The production of saliva refers to an essential process in terms of the entire process of digestion of food, The salivary glands are in charge of daily segregating between 1 and 1.5 liters of saliva, an amount that decreases with age or other conditions such as systemic pathologies or the consumption of certain medications, among others.
The decrease in salivary secretion is detrimental to oral health, since it can lead to the appearance of periodontal diseases such as gingivitis or periodontitis.
Functions of saliva
The main saliva function In terms of protection, it is to act on the microflora (oral bacteria), exerting effects antimicrobial and nutritional (stimulating their growth).
Saliva makes it possible to exclude pathogenic bacteria, maintain normal flora, provide the nutrients necessary, facilitate digestion and keep the constant oral pH.
Saliva provides a mechanical protection thanks to its visco-elastic properties, it allows lubricate foods with hard textures to form the bolus. Likewise, it offers antimicrobial protection thanks to its antiseptic and immune properties that allow it to wash and wash away oral bacteria and toxins. This last property is called the capacity of autoclysis salivary.
Saliva also acts as a buffer against high levels of acidity (neutralizes oral pH). So, it helps remineralize the teeth when they are surrounded by acids and consequently, it avoids the appearance of dental cavities and other oral diseases.
All these functions of saliva explain why the decreased salivary flow, clinically known as hyposalivation, rapidly increases the population of pathogenic microorganisms in the mouth, presenting complications such as susceptibility to fungi such as Candida Albicans, and greater acidogenic activity of microorganisms. Thus, saliva protects the mouth and teeth from possible infections and at the same time rreduce the risk of tooth decay, both at the level of caries prevention, as well as, once the initial caries lesion has already developed, in the process of remineralization of the tooth. Having good oral hygiene habits and increasing the use of fluoridated agents helps saliva to remineralize the teeth and prevent the loss of dental tissue.
During the night, reduce saliva production due to less use of the mouth, as its protective capacity is also diminished. This fact makes the oral hygiene, in a fundamental aspect for all people.
There is a pathology in reference to saliva called xerostomia, that is, the subjective sensation of oral dryness. This causes an increased risk of tooth decay, irritates the mucosa more easily, makes it difficult to swallow food, causes halitosis and increases the possibility of fungal infections.
For all these reasons, saliva is a key element of oral health and it is very important to visit the dentist regularly so that he can detect if there is any abnormality in his secretion process and indicate the most appropriate treatment.
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