Table 1

Role of saliva in oral health

Function Salivary components Probable mechanisms
LubricationGlycoproteins, mucoidsCoating similar to gastric mucin
Physical protectionGlycoproteins, mucoidsCoating similar to gastric mucin
CleansingPhysical flowClearance of debris amd bacteria
BufferingBicarbonates and phosphateAntacids
Tooth integrity maintenanceMineralsMaturation, remineralisation
Glycoprotein pellicleMechanical protection
Antibacterial actionIgAControl of bacterial colonisation
LysozymeBreaks bacterial cell wall
LactoperoxidaseOxidation of susceptible bacteria
LactoferrinBinds to iron molecules, which are essential to bacterial growth
  • Adapted from: Carranza FA, Newman MG, eds. Clinical Periodontology, Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 8th ed. 1996.