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The salivary glands in mammals are exocrine glands, glands with ducts, that produce saliva. They also secrete amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into maltose. In humans, 1200 to 1500 ml of saliva are produced every day. The secretion of saliva (salivation) is mediated by parasympathetic stimulation; acetylcholine is the active neurotransmitter and binds to receptors in the glands, leading to increased salivation, which has many benefits for the oral cavity and health in general.

The knowledge of normal salivary flow rate is extremely important when treating dental patients. These benefits include:

  • Protection: Saliva consists of proteins that lubricate the soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. Hence better protection from dental caries.
  • Pellicle formation on the surface of the tooth to prevent wearing and promoting remineralization.
  • Maintenance of tooth integrity: saliva can then begin to promote the remineralization of the tooth by strengthening the enamel with calcium and phosphate minerals.
  • Antimicrobial action such as histatins inhibit the growth of Candida albicans and Streptococcus mutans. Salivary immunoglobulin prevent the formation of dental plaque.
  • Tissue repair: Saliva can encourage soft-tissue repair by increasing wound healing.
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