We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Purpose of Saliva?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Saliva has a number of purposes that make it an extremely useful substance, making it sorely missed when people experience a reduced output. In addition to playing a role in the digestive process, it is also very important for oral health. Some animals have developed additional uses for it. Swifts, for example, have particularly gummy saliva that they used to glue their nests together.

One of saliva's most important roles is as a lubricator. It keeps the mucus membranes of the mouth moist, making them less subject to cracking and discomfort. This fluid also lubricates food in the mouth, making it easier to chew and swallow. As anyone who has experienced dry mouth knows, a mouth without saliva in it can start to feel extremely uncomfortable very quickly, especially when trying to eat.

Saliva also contains several enzymes that perform various functions. The enzyme lysozyme is antibacterial, so it helps to keep levels of oral bacteria at a manageable level. Digestive enzymes like amylase are also present, breaking food down before it reaches the stomach to make it easier to digest. When the enzyme balance is disrupted, it can cause health problems, most commonly in the form of a flourishing of bacteria in the mouth.

This substance also has a number of minerals that are regularly deposited on the teeth, helping to keep them healthy and to insulate them from bacteria in the mouth. In some cases, mineral deposits may build up too much, in which case they are known as plaque. The digestive enzymes in saliva also work to dissolve particles of food caught between the teeth, ensuring that they do not rot and compromise oral health.

Although saliva is highly beneficial, it is best kept in the mouth. While it does have some antibacterial properties, it should not be used like an antibacterial agent, contrary to popular belief, because the mouth is inherently not sterile. Applying it to a wound could lead to the introduction of oral bacteria to the bloodstream, and this is not desired. Saliva can also harbor some viruses, which is one of the reasons people are encouraged to avoid kissing sick people.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon332692 — On Apr 30, 2013

My friend always thinks it is funny that I apparently have a 'phobia' of other people's saliva and she likes to spit on me because it freaks me out and when she does it I am always like do you know how much bacteria are in your saliva? She just laughs at me.

By Charlie89 — On Jan 14, 2011

I am totally with @pleats -- saliva has always been one of my secret phobias. I know it's really strange, especially since I have saliva and wouldn't do without it, but something about other people's saliva (or even my own if I happen to spit it out for some reason) really, really gets to me.

That's why I could never be one of those people who gives the saliva drug tests -- I would be so grossed out by the idea of touching so many other people's fluids that I don't think I could even do the test.

It truly is amazing how clean humans think they are, when in fact, we're pretty much walking germ factories. So brush your teeth people, and don't spit...especially near me!

By FirstViolin — On Jan 12, 2011

I read a really interesting article recently about the connection between saliva and heart disease. Apparently brushing your teeth and flossing keeps the bacteria in your mouth at reasonable levels, which is of course excellent for hygiene, but also very important because some bacteria that can damage your heart can actually originate in the mouth!

I am not up on the in-depth science of it all, but apparently researchers found that those who brush their teeth more often have a lesser incidence of heart disease, so they started poking around and finally found out the bacterial connection.

Just gives you one more reason to brush and floss, right?

By pleats — On Jan 11, 2011

I'll be the first one to admit that saliva is interesting, especially after reading all these cool things about it, but to be honest, saliva always freaks me out a little bit.

It's necessary and lovely and I hate having a dry mouth as much as the next person, but seriously, when you think about all the germs floating around in the average person's saliva it is truly gross.

That's why I always hate it when people spit -- not only does it look really tacky, it's just unsanitary! Seriously, if you ever get the chance, look at some of the documentation about the massive amounts of bacteria in saliva. My bet is you'll be just as grossed out as I am.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.