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Functions of Saliva

functions of saliva

The most important function of any of the salivary gland Major (Parotid, Sub-mandibular, Sub-lingual gland) or Minor (Labial and buccal glands, Glossopalatine glands, Palatine glands, Lingual glands, Von Ebnerā€™s glands) salivary gland is the production and the secretion of saliva. We shall discuss the functions of saliva in this post.

Oral cavity protection is the major function of the saliva along with other functions as discussed below.

The functions of saliva can be divided under following categories:

  1. Protection
  2. Buffering action
  3. Tooth Integrity
  4. Antimicrobial activity
  5. Tissue repair
  6. Digestion
  7. Taste
  8. Speech


Clearance is seen as water is present in saliva.

Lubrication due to mucins, glycoproteins present in saliva

Thermal/Chemical Insulation due to mucins

Pellicle formation due to Proteins, Glycoproteins and mucins present in saliva

Tannin Binding as basic proline rich proteins and tistatins


Neutralization of acid is due to bicarbonates present in saliva

Tooth Integrity

Saliva helps in enamel maturation and repair due to presence of Calcium phosphate, Fluoride, Acidic proline rich proteins

Antimicrobial activity

Physical barrier due to presence of mucins

Immune defense due to presence of Secretory IgA

Non Immune defense due to presence of Peroxidase, Lactoferrin, Lyso defensins

Tissue Repair

Wound healing is one of the important function of saliva. This is possible due to presence of growth factors, trefoil proteins


Bolus formation due to presence of Water, Mucin

Starch/Triglyceride digestion due to presence of Amylase, Lipase


Solution of molecules maintains the taste buds due to presence of Gustin.


Saliva keeps the oral tissue lubricated which facilitates speech and hence helps in vocalization

We are thankful to Dr. Vasu Sridhar for providing us with notes.