Saliva is a fluid that plays an important role in supporting oral health and the digestive process of food. If the amount of saliva is too little or too much, this could be a sign of a problem with oral health or overall body health.
Saliva is produced by the salivary glands located in the mouth. These glands produce approximately 1-2 liters of saliva every day. Saliva contains protein, minerals, water, and the enzyme amylase which functions to digest carbohydrates.
Some Functions of Saliva
Not without reason why the body produces saliva. Although often considered disgusting, saliva has an important function in maintaining a healthy mouth and body. Some of the functions of saliva include:
- Maintain oral hygiene.
- Helps the process of tasting, chewing, and swallowing food.
- Prevent bad breath.
- Keeps the mouth moist and healthy.
- Protects tooth enamel.
- Prevents infections of the gums, teeth and mouth.
- Prevents gum disease and tooth decay.
- Maintain the placement of dentures.
Lack of Saliva and its Impact on Health
Decreased or too little saliva production can cause dry mouth. People who experience dry mouth due to lack of saliva can experience the following complaints:
- Often feel thirsty.
- Bad breath, for example when fasting.
- Dry throat and lips.
- Disorders of the sense of taste.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing food.
There are several conditions that can cause dry mouth, including:
- Smoking or drinking alcohol in excess.
- Certain diseases, such as diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Sjogren's syndrome, or HIV/AIDS.
- Side effects of certain medications, such as antidepressants, diuretics, and antihistamines, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
To increase saliva production, you can increase the consumption of water, chew sugar-free gum, eat sweets or sour fruit, and keep the air moist by humidifier.
If your mouth is still dry despite the above steps, you should consult a doctor to get the right dry mouth treatment.
Excess Saliva and Its Impact on Health
Increased saliva production is called hypersalivation. This condition does not directly cause health problems, but if saliva is allowed to flow out and is not cleaned, irritation of the skin around the mouth can occur.
Excessive salivation is common in babies. The more common condition is called 'drool' This is normal, especially when the baby is teething.
Whereas in adults, increased saliva production can be caused by certain foods, such as acidic and spicy foods. Pregnant women can also experience excessive saliva production when they are feeling nauseous. This condition is normal and does not endanger the health of pregnant women and their fetuses.
If excess saliva production occurs continuously even though you are not eating acidic or spicy foods and you are not feeling nauseous, this could be a sign of:
- Sore throat, tonsillitis, and sinusitis.
- Oral infection.
- Gastric acid reflux.
- Side effects of medications, such as anticonvulsants and sedatives.
- Brain and nerve disorders, such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, ALS, and cerebral palsy.
Treatment of hypersalivation needs to be adjusted to the causative factor. If you experience increased saliva production for no apparent reason, you should consult a doctor. After conducting an examination and knowing the cause, the new doctor can determine the appropriate treatment.
Saliva has many functions for oral health and digestion. Besides being able to cause various disorders, the production of saliva that is too little or even excessive can indicate the presence of certain diseases. Therefore, if you experience problems with saliva, you should consult a doctor so that it can be treated.