What is Saliva?

Saliva is a watery substance located in the mouths of organisms, secreted by the salivary glands. Human saliva is 99.5% water, while the other 0.5% consists of electrolytes, mucus, glycoproteins, enzymes, and antibacterial compounds such as secretory IgA and lysozyme. The enzymes found in saliva are essential in beginning the process of digestion of dietary starches and fats. These enzymes also play a role in breaking down food particles entrapped within dental crevices, protecting teeth from bacterial decay. Furthermore, saliva serves a lubricative function, wetting food and permitting the initiation of swallowing, and protecting the mucosal surfaces of the oral cavity from desiccation.

Various species have special uses for saliva that go beyond predigestion. Some swifts use their gummy saliva to build nests. Aerodramus nests are prized for use in bird's nest soup. Cobras, vipers, and certain other members of the venom clade hunt with venomous saliva injected by fangs. Some arthropods, such as spiders and caterpillars, create thread from salivary glands.

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