Saliva

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Saliva, also known as spit, is a watery fluid produced by the salivary glands and secreted into the mouth. The enzymes in saliva start digestion of food by breaking down starch and fat. Saliva also breaks down food caught in the teeth, protecting the teeth from bacteria that could cause decay. Read on to learn more about saliva, and its role in digestion.

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Saliva

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Saliva
Saliva and its many useful purposes

Saliva is produced in the salivary glands located in subcutaneous tissues near the ear, lower jaw and beneath the tongue. Production of saliva is controlled by the parasympathetic and sympathetic components of the autonomic nervous system. When activated, these glands secrete saliva into the mouth through secretory ducts. A healthy adult will typically produce about 1 quart (0.95 liters) of saliva per day.

Saliva is 98% water, with the other 2% consisting of electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds, and various enzymes. Saliva, along with chewing, is considered the first phase of the digestive process. Saliva contains the enzyme amylase that breaks down starch into sugar. It also contains salivary lipase that starts to break down fat. In addition to its role in digestion, saliva moistens the food making it easier to swallow.

Saliva also helps in protecting teeth. Saliva washes away food particles that may be caught between teeth. Any food particles not washed away are broken down by the saliva, thereby protecting the teeth from bacteria that cause decay.

 

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