If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then spit is the mirror to the body. It reveals much about your overall well-being and is an excellent early indicator of disease and infection. However, if you are anything like the average person, you probably don’t give your saliva much thought. This is a mistake. It is time to give your spit the attention it deserves. Your body produces around 1-2 liters of saliva per day that contribute to your oral health, provide enzymes to help break down food, and can let you know when something is amiss with your health. Pay attention to your spit…it has a lot to say.
Recent technology has lead to great advances in the medical realm of saliva screening. Doctors can now use a small vial of your spit to diagnose autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, HIV, oral cancer, periodontal diseases, and much more. Unlike drawing blood, it is non-invasive and can provide a wonderful insight into your health.
What your spit is saying about your health
You could be a mouth breather
If your saliva is thick and tacky on your tongue, you may be breathing through your mouth without even realizing it. Proper saliva levels are essential to help protect from cavities, and bacteria build-up. When you breathe through your mouth, you not only lose saliva but could be experiencing a more significant health concern as well. Many people who are mouth breathers have sleep apnea and can develop dry mouth overnight because they are not getting proper airflow through their nasal passages. It is also possible to become a temporary mouth breather if you are suffering from a cold or allergies.
You may have dry mouth
If your mouth feels dry and parched, you most likely need to rehydratewith a simple glass of water. Many people also get dry mouth when they are nervous or stressed, but this should be temporary. If you are properly hydrated and experience a persistent dryness in your throat and mouth, you may have cause for concern. Dry mouth, or xerostomia is most commonly caused by medications including blood pressure, psychiatric, and gastrointestinal drugs and could be indicated by thick, stringy saliva. Over time, dry mouth will invite cavities and gum disease and can even make it hard to swallow or chew. If you are on any prescriptions and believe you have dry mouth, talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication.
You have reflux
Spit should not have a taste; it is merely the substance produced by your salivary glands to aid in washing down food particles and fighting tooth decay. If your saliva tastes nasty and sour, you may have reflux. Reflux is when stomach acid bubbles up into your throat and causes heartburn and nausea along with that unpleasant taste in your mouth. Those suffering from frequent reflux may need to implement diet and lifestyle changes to find relief.
You are pregnant
Though it is one of the lesser-known effects of pregnancy, studies showthat women who are expecting may have overactive saliva production. This can come in conjunction with nausea and morning sickness, or it could be an isolated event. Thankfully, this increase in saliva is nothing to be worried about. Chew on a piece of gum or suck on a mint to help swallow some of that extra spit.
You could have an oral infection
White, clumpy saliva along with pain in the mouth and throat is often an indicator of an oral yeast infection caused by the candida albicans fungus. This infection is called “thrush” and is usually rare in healthy adults. However, if you have diabetes or a compromised immune system, you may have an increased risk of developing this fungus. Older people and children are also more susceptible. Usually, doctors will prescribe an antifungal mouthwash to help eradicate the infection. Keep in mind, dry mouth can cause a similar consistency spit and can often be a precursor to thrush.
Always be sure to practice good oral hygiene to keep your salivary glands happy and avoid gum infection and mouth diseases. Brush at least twice per day and floss once to remove food debris and bacteria.