Link #44: You Produce Enough Saliva in Your Life to Fill Two Olympic Swimming Pools

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Link #44: You Produce Enough Saliva in Your Life to Fill Two Olympic Swimming Pools

Olympic swimming pool (Georgia, Isani, Tbilisi). Image credit: Zurab Shamatava GFDL

Most of you already know that the primary purpose of saliva is to predigest the food you eat. Those of you who read our last post also know that human saliva can be six times more effective than morphine when it comes to subduing pain. This means that your saliva doesn’t just help in digestion but also acts as a natural painkiller.

What’s more is that your body is equipped to supply you with as much saliva as you need. Haven’t you noticed that every time you think of something yummy or are just plain hungry, your mouth starts salivating?

The big question though is how much saliva your mouth produces. In simple terms, the amount of saliva you produce in your life can be used to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools!

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How Much Saliva Does a Person Produce in One Day?

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Image credit: Juhan Sonin cc2.0

The amount of saliva a person produces in one day depends entirely on the individual’s fitness, lifestyle, age, sex, and a wide variety of other factors. In fact, there are so many factors that you can say that each individual is unique.

In terms of a range, a person can produce anything between 0.75 and 1.5 litres of saliva per day. That means that you produce anything between 273.75 and 547.5 litres of saliva per year.

If you assume that on an average a person lives for 80 years, this means that that person produces a minimum of 21,900 litres and a maximum of 43,800 litres of saliva in his life. The maximum is almost enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools.

What Does Saliva Contain And How Is It Produced?

human saliva taken at 60x magnification
Photo of human saliva taken at 60x magnification. Image credit: Rickfrombaltimore cc4.0

While it may not look like it, the majority of your saliva is water. In fact, 99.5 percent of your saliva is water. However, it’s the other 0.5 percent that is crucial when it comes to saliva. The 0.5 percent comprises a wide variety of substances such as digestive enzymes, anti-bacterial compounds, mucus and electrolytes.

Saliva is produced by your salivary glands. While your mouth contains 800 to 1,000 salivary glands, most of them are minor salivary glands. There are three major salivary glands which are responsible for producing most of the saliva in your mouth.

These are the parotid glands (located in your cheeks), the submandibular glands (located at the base of your lower jaw, and the sublingual glands (located on your tongue).

What Does Saliva Do in Your Mouth?

Yummy Club Sandwich by Jessica Spengler cc2.0

While it is common knowledge that saliva can help prepare food for digestion in the stomach, it has other purposes as well. For instance, your saliva lubricates the insides of your mouth so that the food you eat doesn’t damage it.

One of the most important functions of saliva in your mouth is to protect it from foreign particles and microorganisms. Furthermore, your saliva also keeps your mouth clean.

Your saliva is also crucial to your ability to taste. The chemicals that give taste to food are carried in your saliva to the taste receptors in your mouth. Without your saliva, you may find most foods metallic tasting or even have your sense of taste skewed.

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