Sometimes called spit, saliva is a clear liquid made by several glands inside your mouth. Saliva is mostly made of water but also contains proteins and minerals that keep your teeth and gums healthy and help your body digest food.1

How is saliva made?

Saliva is made when you chew. The harder you chew, the more saliva you make. You can also make saliva when sucking on hard candy, cough drops and lozenges. Note: Choose sugar-free candies, cough drops and lozenges to prevent cavities and tooth decay.2

What does saliva do?

Here are some important things saliva does :3

  • Keeps your mouth moist and comfortable
  • Helps you chew, taste and swallow
  • Prevents tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath
  • Protects tooth enamel
  • Keeps dentures securely in place

Researchers are also studying if saliva can give warnings of health concerns. Blood and saliva are similar in some ways, so saliva may help detect and diagnose oral diseases.4 Saliva is already used for rapid HIV testing and shows promising results in diagnosing breast cancer, oral cancers and viral hepatitis.5

What happens if I don’t make enough saliva?

Age, medicines and diseases can decrease how much saliva you make. This can lead to a condition called dry mouth.6

If your glands aren’t producing enough saliva, check out these dry mouth symptoms and remedies.

Humana can help with dry mouth

If you need professional treatment for dry mouth, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with affordable monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana dental insurance page.

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  1. “Saliva and Your Mouth,” WebMD, last accessed November 19, 2021,
  2. “Saliva and Your Mouth.”
  3. “Saliva and Your Mouth.”
  4. “Saliva and Your Mouth.”
  5. “Saliva,” American Dental Association, last accessed November 19, 2021,
  6. “Saliva and Your Mouth.”