What’s in a Saliva? Much!
Did you know that we, humans produce almost 0.75 to 1.5 litres of saliva per day? Now, that an impressive figure! Knowingly or unknowingly our saliva plays a vital role in not just helping us digest our food well, but is also essential for good oral health. It is important for normal pH of your mouth, lubrication and oral hygiene as it has bacterial properties. It also plays an important role in sensing taste. A change in taste of your mouth saliva also indicates health problems. Though we often don’t give much attention to our spit, its texture, volume, colour can reveal a lot about our health.
Here are 7 things your saliva reveals about your health.
You have a dry mouth
Dry mouth is a very common condition, which occurs when there is an insufficient production of saliva. It can occur due to aging, dehydration and certain health conditions like diabetes, oral infections, Sjogren’s syndrome, vitamin deficiency and certain medications. Less mouth saliva can also mean that you are a mouth breather. Breathing through the mouth is a common problem in people with sleep apnoea and swollen adenoids. If your saliva is sticky it could mean you are breathing with open mouth. Dry mouth along with difficulty in swallowing, swelling and pain in the neck, can be due to salivary stones. Also called, sialolithiasis, it is caused by building up of calcium in the salivary ducts.
You are over stressed
If you are stressed or anxious about something, you can have too much saliva in the mouth. If the enzyme cortisol is high in your mouth saliva, it clearly indicates that you are over stressed. That’s amazing! This is often used to detect stress levels in pregnant women, to assess if it affects the growing foetus. Over stressed pregnant women are at risk of pregnancy complications and premature births.
You are on medications
If you are taking medicines for minor illnesses, allergy medicines or other long-term medications, your saliva may show changes. Some medications can cause dryness of mouth, due to less salivation. Some medicines can also bring a metallic taste to your saliva while some may make your mouth bitter.
You produce too much saliva
The answer to the question, what causes you to spit a lot, lies here. Excessive production of saliva can make you spit more often. This is particularly noticed in pregnant women, possibly due to hormonal changes. Some may also experience increased salivation due to ill-fitting dentures, ongoing or recent dental treatment, throat infection or digestive problems. Sometimes, you can even blame nutritional deficiencies if you have too much saliva in the mouth. Excessive drooling of saliva can indicate problems with tongue control and coordination. While it is more common in children, it can occur in adults, due to nerve problems, weakness of mouth muscles or in paralysis. Timely check of nutritional deficiencies and digestive problems can help you keep a control your drool.
You have acid reflux
Acid reflux is a common cause for foamy saliva in adults. When acid regurgitates up to the throat, it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Sour saliva and nausea are commonly experienced in hyperacidity and acid reflux disease. It may be triggered by eating spicy or sour foods, overeating, late night eating or after staying hungry for long. Acidic saliva increases the risk of dental caries and tooth erosion, hence timely help must be sought.
There is an infection
If there is an oral infection, your saliva can show some changes. White and clumpy saliva is often seen in an oral infection, particularly oral thrush. Gum infection or other problems in the oral cavity can result in blood stained saliva. Thick saliva with bubbles can be seen if you have cough, cold, sinusitis or respiratory infection. Normally sinuses are filled with air. If there is an infection or sinusitis, the air can leak into the mouth, which causes bubbles. Some serious lung infections can also be suspected by testing the saliva.
There is an underlying health problem
Testing saliva can help reveal the possibility of various health conditions. If you are in pain, certain enzymes present in your saliva can reveal it. Studies suggest that saliva contains certain molecules and hormones, which are related to various health problems. Testing your mouth saliva can assess your risk for heart diseases, diabetes, palsy, neurological problems and even cancer.
As it is an important body fluid, any change in your health is reflected on your saliva. Salivary amylase, an important digestive enzyme in saliva is tested to detect many illnesses. So, keep a check on your saliva. If you notice any changes in the colour, texture or the amount of saliva produced, seek a medical opinion.