Human Anatomy and Physiology

What is the function of salivary glands?

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August 27, 2017 3:58AM

The major function OS salivary glands is to secrete saliva.


- Lubrication: the mucus in saliva is extremely effective in

binding masticated food into a slippery bolus that usually slides

easily thought the esophagus without inflicting damage to the

mucosa. Saliva also coats the oral cavity and esophagus, and food

basically never directly touches the epithelial cells of those


- Solubilizes dry food: in order to be tasted, the molecules in

food must be solubilized.

- Oral hygiene: the oral cavity is almost constantly flushed

with saliva, which floats away food debris and keeps the mouth

clean. Flow of saliva diminishes considerably during sleep, allow

populations of bacteria to build up in the mouth - the result of

bad breath in the morning. Saliva also contains lysozyme, an enzyme

that lyses many bacteria and prevents overgrowth of oral microbial


- Initiates starch digestion: in most species, the serous acinar

cells secrete and alpha-amylase which can begin to digest dietary

starch into maltose. Amylase is not present or is present only in

very small quantities, in the saliva of carnivores or cattle.

- Provides alkaline buffering and fluid this is of great

importance in ruminants which have non-secretory forestomachs.

- Evaporative cooling: clearly of importance in dogs, which have

poorly developed sweat glands.

- Source of calcium and phosphate ions essential for normal

tooth maintenance.

- Provides a medium for dissolved and suspended food materials

that chemically stimulate taste buds.

- Buffering of the contents of the oral cavity through its high

concentration of bicarbonate ion.

To produce saliva

Salivary amylase in saliva breaks down some of the food in the


More accurately, amylase breaks down starch into sugars.

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