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Saliva is your antibacterial shield

Xerostomia (zeer-o-STOE-me-uh), more commonly known as dry mouth, is a much more serious problem than it may sound. We are talking about xerostomia when the amount of saliva in one’s mouth is significantly reduced or indeed absent. You may wonder what causes this problem. Firstly, saliva is necessary to keep the mouth moisturized and clean. Secondly, enzymes in saliva help digest food. But most importantly, saliva is a natural antibacterial weapon, aiding in the defence against infections.

The secret healing powers of saliva

Have you noticed that mouth injuries heal much faster than injuries on other parts of the body? Saliva is a very important healing factor. Licking a cut on one’s finger is almost a natural reaction, and there is much more to this than a simple emergency cleansing. Medical researchers have shown that saliva contains huge concentrations of white blood cells, called neutrophils. These very specialised cells help the body to fight infection by killing harmful bacteria. Scientists have also identified a particular mucus in healthy saliva that protects skin cells, covering them with special nets, which works as a kind of biological armour.

Diseases connected with chronic dry mouth

The most common mouth syndrome- aphthous stomatitis – leads to the recurring formation of mouth ulcers in patients that usually do not have any other medical conditions. Such persistent damage to the soft tissue in one’s mouth and at the base of one’s gums can be very difficult to cure. Mouth lesions are usually small and shallow but painful and make eating and talking difficult. Patients with mouth ulcers often also suffer from xerostomia. An insufficient level of saliva causes internal mouth injures. Scientists have also noticed that the saliva of patients with this condition commonly lack the specific mucus responsible for generating these protective, healing nets.

Source: http://www.bloodjournal.org/content/early/2015/08/04/blood-2015-04-641142?sso-checked=true

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