Your saliva plays one of the most important roles in your digestive system and protecting your oral health. However, this part of the system is often overlooked, given how we don’t know enough about it. The saliva in our mouth is produced by a tissue known as salivary glands.
Found only in mammals, salivary glands release saliva into the epithelial surface of our mouth with the help of ducts. Saliva is more of a topical fluid and doesn’t go into our bloodstream. It is a mixture of water, mucus, digestive enzymes, and antibacterial substance. The enzymes present in our saliva help in breaking down of our food into simpler sugars like maltose and glucose.
Function of Salivary Glands
Salivary glands have two major functions of protecting the oral tissues and breaking down the food with its enzymes. Made out of substances like water, mucus, and antibacterial substances, the salivary glands have following functions.
Apart from these, one can also make use of saliva to determine the hormone balance of one’s body. It helps in identifying steroids in one’s body. It offers help in many diagnostic tests that allows you to check up on the counts of bacteria, yeast, etc. in the mouth.
How do they work?
Based on their location, the salivary glands are divided into three types and have different functions for each:
Why are salivary glands important?
Saliva is crucial to maintaining the health of the mouth as it not only helps in the breakage of food particles, but also maintains the pH balance of the mouth. Salivary glands also facilitate the speech function. The lack of saliva can result in xerostomis, a condition that can increase the decay of teeth, and cause bad breath. The digestive system also suffers as the food particles cannot be broken down. This could also increase the amount of acid in the mouth, as the saliva won’t be present to balance it out.
The salivary glands make use of tiny ducts to produce saliva. Thus, if they are inflamed or blocked, the production of saliva will suffer, resulting in the dry mouth condition. Your dentist can thus, prescribe you medicines to curb this condition.