Ever wonder how much saliva your mouth makes every day? We’ve got the answers to that question and so much more!
How Much Saliva is Normal?
Every day your mouth makes two to four pints of saliva. That equates to about four to eight cups, or 32 to 64 oz. To better illustrate, think two to four standard water bottles. That may sound like a lot, but when you know more about this vital body fluid, it might encourage you to drink more water!
What Is Saliva?
Saliva is a fluid comprised of ninety nine percent water plus minerals, proteins, electrolytes, enzymes, mucus, antimicrobials, white blood cells, epidermal growth factors, and more.
It is secreted by salivary glands that reside on the bottom of your mouth, inside of your cheek and under your jaw. These glands produce what we commonly call spit 24/7.
Role of Saliva
The main function of saliva is to keep your mouth wet which has a number of benefits:
- Prevents the oral mucosa from drying out.
- Moistens food, facilitates chewing, swallowing and digestion.
- Keeps your tongue moist which enables it to taste if a food is salty, tart or sweet, increasing enjoyment of your favorite foods.
- Keeps the rest of your mouth and gums moist and lubricated.
- Helps clean the inside of your mouth and rinse your teeth.
- Kills microbes and bacteria, protecting teeth from decay, gingivitis and gum disease
- Promotes health and helps prevent infections.
- Helps produce enamel.
- Maintains the pH of the mouth.
Where Does Saliva Go?
During the day you swallow most of your saliva, which ends up in your stomach. When you sleep, you swallow less, causing some saliva to escape your mouth. While no one likes to wake up to a damp pillow, rest assured, drool is completely normal. If drooling is excessive due to medical conditions, Botox can be injected into the salivary glands to provide relief for up to three months.
Too Little Saliva
If you experience bad breath or have a metallic taste you could have dry mouth or xerostomia due to reduced saliva production. This can simply occur when you don’t drink enough water or fluids, sleep with your mouth open, or go to a dry climate.
Age and medical treatments like chemotherapy and medications for allergies, anxiety, pain or high blood pressure, and muscle relaxants can also reduce saliva production.
Chewing gum or sucking on mints can help increase saliva production, but, choose sugarless as it can help remove decay causing acid and prevent other dental problems. Or you can find artificial saliva at the drugstore that will help moisten your mouth. You can also ask your doctor if there is an alternative to your medication. If the condition persists, and none of the above apply, see your doctor to rule out autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s or Sjögren’s.
What Not To Do With Saliva
While saliva helps clean the inside of your mouth, human saliva has bacteria so shouldn’t be used to clean your baby’s pacifier as it can increase their chances of developing cavities. We also advise against using it to clean contact lenses, or a cut finger as the bacteria in saliva could cause an infection.
Law enforcement now routinely uses DNA from epithelial cells in saliva to identify criminals. Who knows what else saliva can do to keep us safe?