How do salivary glands work?

Salivary glands are responsible for the production and secretion of saliva, our body’s liquid gold that helps us digest food with ease. Without it, we would have a hard time breaking down our food and face dire consequences like stomach ache, bloating, or uncontrolled flatulence in public (I’m talking to you).

In this article let’s dive into how your salivary glands function as mighty machines working in perfect harmony to keep your oral environment hydrated and healthy.


Let’s first understand the basic structure of your salivary glands. You may have noticed an increase in drooling while watching A.R Rahman win his Oscar at Academy Awards 2009 (he is God BTW!) , but did you know that there are three major pairs of salivary glands?

  • Parotid
  • Submandibular
  • Sublingual

The parotid gland being the largest is located on either side of the cheeks just below the ears. The submandibular gland lies beneath each jaw towards its inner edge meanwhile the sublingual gland positioned immediately below tongue short story shorter than a limerick!

Each pair secretes different types of saliva both chemically and physically which we’ll get into more detail soon!


Without further ado lets jump right into these stone-cold munching action hero(s)-the functional process! Your mouth gets flooded with saliva even at just one thought about food. This happens due to increasing level activity taking place not only inside your brain but also some stars among organs – particularly adrenalin pumping up blood flow which initiates what we call ‘munchies’.

Basal Secretion

Even when you’re not eating/drooling over A.R Rahman videos (again), continuous basal secretion maintains moisture levels essential for tissue healing avoid starvation mode; keeps your mouth clean of germs and converts starch into glucose.

The food trigger

Commence your upshifts – when chewing takes place, that’s signaled for the salivary glands to begin producing more saliva. Different types of food been consumed also affects the saliva produced (no same-same here!).

Types of Saliva

Saliva is not one-size-fits-all! It comes in different varieties you didn’t even know existed like those sticky individuals from elementary school.

  • Serous
  • Mucous
  • Mixed

Let’s break it down a bit further:


Serious type secretion obtained via parotid gland (not to be confused with serious looking faces Danial Craig cracks) consists majorly enzymes responsible for carbohydrate breakdown and easier absorption during digestion process helthier chompers (less cavities).


Muscus(Gross I know) type mostly released through sublingual gland helps lubricate see better oh phonetics; making it easier swallow whilst creating an ice-rink or a greasy slope, depending on where YOU stand!


As the name suggests this variety combines both serous and mucuous secretions produced by survivors i.e …..aahh…… pardon me mixed excrescence And just like human relationships some things work beautifully together (chocolate+me=bliss!)

Each type serves its own specific role somewhat like ingredients in recipe necessary differentiate amongst them!

Factors affecting Salivation

Look into my eye(s)-I command thee’ bringeth forth thine drools’. No? Oh well.

Salivation can be affected by numerous factors such as medication and age. For instance, medications such as antidepressants reduce salivation therefore leading towards dry mouth syndrome having trouble sleeping due to thirst.Water content becomes lower meaning harder foods end-up incompelete digested exacerbated particularly for elderly individuals.

Stress, anxiety and smoking are some of the most common factors that can cause a decrease in saliva production which leads to overall challenges while food chewing/digestion (I have no words for smokers).

Taking care

Cleaning your teeth twice daily and overall maintainig good oral hygiene necessary flushing-out germs is essential follow-up after-eating; additional help may be with sugar-free gum or sour foods like lemons ‘Put another lemon on barbie mate!’

One should not take salivary glands lightly as they keep our mouths happy without even asking for thanks because well…they’re machines – but remember using them correctly ensure upkeeping your healthy lifestyle

And finally introducing A.R Rahman -(Tada!)


In conclusion automated systems at work all around our bodies! Salivary glands are prime examples producing same amount numerous times per day washing away toxins checking whether ‘poops die of natural causes’. Without constant lubrication provided by saliva, professionals (stinking breath lot) would face difficulties in their routine tasks affecting overall performance.

By taking proper measures such as consistent brushing/flossing maintaining adequate water intake and avoidance bad habits i.e excessive smoking-one could continue benefiting from this amazing gift(from above JK!), effectively keeping those chompers sharp-and-crunchy & YOUR life stress-free (beware if stressed all over floor might become sticky!) lobster quadrille anyone?

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