We use our mouth every day to eat, drink, breathe and speak. It does so much more than that though.
The infographic above helps to demonstrate that in just two areas: taste buds and saliva.
Why We Have Taste Buds
Our mouth uses several thousand taste buds to help us understand what we’re eating. While we may use that today to enjoy piles of spaghetti and pancakes with delicious syrup, the sense of taste originates from a far more serious issue. Survival. Back in the good-old- days taste was used to help identify what we were eating and more importantly, figure out if it was going to hurt us.
Since then we’ve honed in on our ability to taste. Our taste buds are capable of tasting well over 100,000 different combinations. That number grows significantly if you add in the senses of touch, temperature and smell.
Functions of Saliva
As important as taste is to our health, saliva may be even more important. It provides us with four basic functions that are crucial to keeping things in working order. While many of us are probably aware of its uses for lubrication and digestion, there are two other functions that are lesser known.
The first is its ability to keep acid levels balanced in our mouth. Every time we eat the bacteria that lives in our mouth produces acid. That acid eats away at our enamel and causes our teeth to decay. Saliva will balance that out and neutralize that acid. Without it, our teeth would always be decaying, which is no good.
The second is saliva’s ability to protect us. Our mouth is the primary entry point a wide variety of nasty things like germs, viruses and bacteria. Our saliva uses antimicrobial enzymes and various compounds to kill those critters on the spot and keep them from causing havoc in our body. The rest of the immune system acts like a clean-up crew, but our saliva acts more like a bouncer.
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