When do we produce saliva?

The major function of saliva is to help in the process of digestion. It keeps the mouth moist and comfortable when we eat and helps to moisten dry food, allowing it to be chewed and swallowed more easily. The mucus in saliva coats the bolus (or chewed food) and acts as a lubricant to help us to swallow.

The enzyme ptyalin which is found in saliva begins the first stage of digestion. It begins to break down starchy food into simpler sugars. Saliva also allows us to taste our food and drink. Each day we all usually produce about 1.7 litres (3 pints) of saliva.

Fact File:

The four main tastes are sweet, salt, bitter and sour, and you can taste them with different parts of your tongue. You can check where the four tastes are by dabbing it with a little salt, sugar, coffee grounds (bitter) and lemon juice (sour).


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