Saliva: Secretion and Functions

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Saliva: Secretion and Functions

Saliva: Secretion and Functions

Saliva: Secretion and Functions

Saliva is a vital fluid produced by the salivary glands in the mouth. It plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health and aiding in the digestion process. In this article, we will explore the secretion and functions of saliva in detail.

Secretion of Saliva

Saliva is produced by three pairs of major salivary glands: the parotid glands, submandibular glands, and sublingual glands. These glands secrete saliva into the mouth through ducts. Additionally, there are numerous minor salivary glands located throughout the oral cavity that also contribute to saliva production.

The secretion of saliva is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. When we eat or even think about food, the parasympathetic nervous system stimulates the salivary glands to produce saliva. On the other hand, the sympathetic nervous system inhibits saliva production.

Functions of Saliva

1. Lubrication and Moistening

One of the primary functions of saliva is to lubricate and moisten the oral cavity, making it easier to speak, chew, and swallow. It prevents dryness and discomfort in the mouth, ensuring smooth movement of food and facilitating proper digestion.

2. Digestion

Saliva contains enzymes, such as amylase, that initiate the digestion process. Amylase breaks down complex carbohydrates into simpler sugars, facilitating their absorption in the digestive system. This enzymatic action begins in the mouth and continues as food travels through the digestive tract.

3. Protection

Saliva plays a crucial role in protecting the oral cavity from harmful bacteria and infections. It contains antimicrobial agents, such as lysozyme and immunoglobulins, which help fight against oral pathogens. Saliva also helps maintain the pH balance in the mouth, preventing the growth of acid-producing bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

4. Taste and Speech

Saliva helps dissolve food particles, allowing taste receptors on the tongue to detect flavors. It also aids in the formation of speech sounds by facilitating the movement of the tongue and lips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much saliva does a person produce in a day?

A: On average, a person produces about 1 to 1.5 liters of saliva per day.

Q: Can medications affect saliva production?

A: Yes, certain medications can cause dry mouth by reducing saliva production. This condition is known as xerostomia.

Q: Does saliva have any antibacterial properties?

A: Yes, saliva contains antimicrobial agents that help fight against oral bacteria and protect the mouth from infections.


Saliva is a remarkable fluid with various important functions. From lubricating the oral cavity to aiding in digestion and protecting against oral infections, saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health. Understanding the secretion and functions of saliva can help us appreciate its significance and take better care of our oral hygiene.