Salivating is one of those human functions that many of us find gross, but the majority may not even understand why we need saliva to begin with.
Saliva plays an important role in the grand scheme of the human body. For one, it helps us digest food, protects our teeth from decay, prevents infection and bad breath, and works as a lubricant to allow movement of the jaw and tongue. For these reasons alone, you should have a greater appreciation for saliva. But did you know that if we took the time to pay attention to our saliva it could give us some in-depth insight into our health as well?
Just like how our urine can indicate infection or our stool can reveal a problem, saliva can tell something about the workings of our body. Here are some ways saliva can reveal insightful information about our health.
1. Acid reflux
If your saliva ever tastes bitter or sour and you haven’t consumed anything of the same flavoring, this could be a sign of acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid works its way up into the throat. When it enters the mouth, it can leave a sour or bitter taste. Additional symptoms of acid reflux are heartburn, nausea, and even bad breath.
There are many natural ways to combat acid reflux, like changing your diet to avoid greasy or spicy foods, losing weight, or even chewing gum after the meal.
2. Genetic makeup
Not only can saliva be used in paternity or maternity testing, saliva samples may also be the key for diagnostics. Saliva can reveal the level of hormones like melatonin, which can help doctors improve a person’s sleep cycle or eating habits. Furthermore, saliva can be used to diagnose illnesses and disease, like diabetes or even cancer. This is because saliva contains certain RNA molecules, revealing biomarkers that aid in disease diagnosis. Potentially, saliva may be a go-to source for testing to determine illness.
3. Side effects to your medication
There are over 300 different medications that can change the inside of your mouth. From decongestants to antihistamines, you can experience dry mouth as a side effect. It’s important to keep your mouth lubricated, as it helps to protect you from infection.
If your medication causes dry mouth, you should take extra care in the oral hygiene department, as you can become more susceptible to infection or cavities. Always ensure you are brushing and flossing your teeth to maintain proper oral health.
4. Yeast infection
A yeast infection in the mouth, known as thrush, comes from a fungus and can make your saliva white and clumpy. If you are a healthy adult you probably don’t need to worry too much about it, but if you have diabetes your risk of developing thrush increases.
Thrush can be treated with medication, but white and clumpy saliva can also be a symptom of dry mouth, so it’s important to distinguish between the two.
Changes in your mouth are important to note as they can reveal quite a bit about your overall health. If you notice any changes to your saliva, it may be wise to speak to your doctor or take a look at lifestyle factors that may contribute to these changes.
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