Saliva is made up almost entirely of water. In fact, saliva is over 99% water. 

The rest of saliva is made up of a large amount of various electrolytes and enzymes. Most of these are involved with the early stages of digestion, the very first stage in breaking down food to extract the nutrients.

Saliva acts as a lubricant for our mouths and the mechanical action of the flow of saliva aids in physically dislodging small amounts of food debris and plaque from our tooth surfaces. It is important to have an adequate saliva flow to achieve this effect.

Most of our saliva comes from three pairs of major glands that secrete into our oral cavity. These glands are:

  • Sub-mandibular -> these can be felt underneath either side of your jawbone
  • Sub-lingual -> these can be felt either side underneath your tongue
  • Parotid -> these glands are located either side up near your jaw joint

Along with these glands there are hundreds of minor salivary glands that also secrete a smaller amount of saliva into our mouths. It is estimated that all of these glands secrete around 2L of saliva per day into a healthy person’s mouth. About 90% of this saliva comes from the paired major glands.

Apart from the mechanical flushing and cleansing action of saliva, some of the electrolytes aid in the maintenance of healthy tooth structure. Some of these electrolytes are calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride, bicarbonate, magnesium and phosphates. You might find some of these in oral health products to supplement what our saliva provides naturally.

If you have problems with saliva flow you may experience dry-mouth and possibly some of the flow-on effects of having a chronic dry mouth. This can be caused by underlying systemic conditions and/or medications. If you suffer from dry-mouth and would like to discuss this and possible treatment options, we are only too happy consult with you and advise you.