Interesting Facts About Saliva You Never Knew


Saliva is an odd but necessary secretion all of us have. We produce between one and two liters per day in order to maintain a natural saliva flow. Besides helping us break down our food, saliva has a long list of helpful traits and strange remedies that keep our bodies on the right track. Over 25,000 quarts of saliva are produced by each person in their lifetime, and we found out what makes saliva so special for our bodies to survive and our teeth clean.


Saliva 101




It’s hard to believe that saliva is such a strong component for our overall health considering over 70 different kinds of bacteria are used to produce it. Fortunately, the bacteria is used as counteracting defendants to plaque buildup. Our saliva creates bacteria that demote acids which prevents widespread decay by protecting the enamel from dissolving due to overexposure to acidic food debris.


Surprisingly, the bacteria in the mouths of newborn parents can act as an antibacterial substance for dropped pacifiers. A study of 65 Swedish parents and their babies was conducted to identify the best way to clean a child’s pacifier after being dropped. Parents who cleaned the pacifier with their own saliva had children less prone to asthma or eczema, compared to parents who ran the pacifier under water. It is believed that the parent’s “experienced” saliva has been trained to fight disease longer. When the baby contacts the saliva, it begins to attach and train the new immune system more quickly.


Personality Detection


Believe it or not, you can tell if someone is an introvert or extrovert depending on the amount of saliva the individual regularly produces. The reticular activating system (RAS) is an area of the brain stimulated by social interaction. Introverts have a highly active RAS, leading them to be less social, long periods of deep thinking, and causing a bit of social panic. Surprisingly, the same function is used to regulate saliva production and increases as the RAS becomes more aroused and more panicked.


Pain Killers


Your saliva produces one of the strongest painkillers known to modern science: opiorphin. The chemicals that travel to the brain when in pain are called enkephalins, and opiorphin protects those chemicals from sending signals to alert pain with six times more strength than morphine. While it is still being tested, scientists are pleased to find that it is not only more effective than morphine, opiorphin also has no threatening or addictive side effects like morphine. Once approved this pain killer may change medicine forever, all thanks to our saliva.


Illegal Trade


Believe it or not, infected saliva is illegally traded at an alarming rate to gain government medical benefits in South Africa. Tuberculosis (TB) is almost as rampant in South Africa as unemployment. Almost one-quarter of the population is without a job, and as the government passed laws to financially support those with TB, the unemployed have become desperate. People are paying the sick for their saliva to turn into overcrowded medical testing centers. Those who slip through the system with false positive TB saliva will receive benefits to combat the lack of job security throughout the country.


DNA Blueprint


A full sample of DNA including all genes and necessary information can be found in half an eye-dropper worth of saliva. It is incredible the amount of things that can be learned about a person through the inspection of saliva DNA. The levels of C-reactive protein in your blood are typically used to determine risk of heart attack, but a recent study found that saliva contains the same levels that can determine heart attack risk without having to extract blood from patients. Our genes change and mature in different ways throughout our body and our saliva can help scientists detect specific changing genes that ultimately determine the age of a person without any other information provided.


These are just the highlights of the multiple ways saliva is a well-rounded, necessary production of our body in order to function naturally. If you or someone you know has been experiencing a lack of saliva production, or is in need of a dental check-up, contact Greenspoint Dental today in the Houston, Texas area.