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Our spit (saliva) plays a very large role in our overall health, especially in the mouth. Saliva protects our teeth and gums from bacteria and acids.  It also lubricates the mouth and helps to begin the digestion process. It also plays a significant role in the complex process of taste. There are six major salivary glands and many more minor glands found in the cheeks, lips, bottom of the mouth, tongue, palate, and pharynx.

The Von Ebner Glands (Serous Glands) are minor glands and are located on both sides toward the back of the tongue. Part of their job is to secrete amylase which is a digestive enzyme that helps to break down food as you chew. It is unique among the glands in the mouth for its other role: aiding with taste.

Salivary Glands and Taste

The tongue has over a thousand tastebuds. They are located on the spongy bumps called “papillae”.

There are four kinds: filiform, fungiform, foliate, and circumvallate. The Ebner Glands are near the foliate and circumvallate papillae. This is on the back and sides of the tongue. When you drink liquid or eat, the liquid the glands secrete will wash food particles over these protrusions sending flavor onto the taste receptors and then into the gustatory portion of the brain.

Research has found that von Ebner Glands also secrete a protein unlike any other that is found in the mouth. This protein is similar to a protein found in the nasal cavity that helps the olfactory receptors. This research has scientists thinking that Ebner Gland may play an even bigger role when it comes to connecting flavors to our taste receptors. While it is known that saliva plays a vital role in taste, we are still learning more about these fascinating glands every day.

So as you can see, our spit (saliva) plays an important role in our overall health and helps to give us one of life’s greatest pleasures: taste! If you are having any issues with your oral health, be sure to consult a dentist for the best care possible. Oral care is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, so be sure to make it a priority in your daily routine! Schedule a dental checkup with Sweet Water Dentistry today.