Saliva is often an overlooked bodily function, but it plays a vital role in maintaining oral hygiene and aiding in digestion. Dr. Brooke Glessing, the medical director of endoscopy at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, explains that saliva contains digestive enzymes that break down sugars, starch, and fats.
While saliva is typically clear and thin, certain health issues can affect its production and composition. Changes in consistency, taste, and color may be due to underlying health conditions. Factors such as dehydration, autoimmune diseases, and infections can impact the amount and quality of saliva produced.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common condition that can be caused by dehydration, certain medications, or autoimmune conditions like Sjogren's syndrome. On the other hand, excess saliva can be a sign of acid reflux, pregnancy, or difficulty swallowing.
Bloody saliva is usually the result of injuries to the mouth or gums, poor dental hygiene, or conditions like gingivitis or oral ulcers. Saliva that tastes sour or metallic may indicate acid reflux, hay fever, vitamin B12 deficiency, or kidney and liver problems. A constant sweet taste in the mouth can be a symptom of uncontrolled diabetes, upper respiratory tract infections, or damaged taste nerves.
If saliva appears white and sticky, it could be a result of dehydration, dry mouth, or an oral infection like thrush caused by the candida albicans fungus. Thick and stringy saliva may be a consequence of an imbalance in saliva composition, often associated with mouth breathing during sleep.
It is important to note that changes in saliva should not be ignored, especially if they persist. Consultation with a healthcare professional is recommended to determine if there is an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.
Understanding the various changes in saliva can help individuals identify potential health concerns and seek appropriate medical attention if necessary.