What is the role of saliva in the digestion of food?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

The role of saliva in food digestion is to moisten food for swallowing, breaks the starch and converts it to maltose. Saliva has the following roles in food digestion. It makes the food moister for simpler swallowing. It causes the food’s pH to change from acidic to alkaline, starting the starch breakdown process. It contains salivary amylase, a digestive enzyme that converts starch into maltose.

Function and Role of Saliva

  • Saliva has several uses, including mouth washing and the potential to kill bacteria (prevents tooth decay).
  • Food is lubricated by saliva to make it easier to swallow.
  • Ptyalin is an enzyme that helps turn starch into maltose.
  • Bolus production is aided by saliva (ball-like mixture of food that is mixed in the mouth with saliva).
  • Along with the tongue’s surface, saliva lubricates and moistens the inside lining of the oral cavity.
  • The vast bulk of saliva is produced by salivary glands. The parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands are the three primary salivary glands.
  • Pancreatic ducts: The parotid glands create a saline, watery fluid. They are situated along the side of the face, beneath and in front of each ear, and are the largest of the pairs.
  • glands in the sub mandible: These spherical glands are located in front of the sternomastoid muscle, close to the inner side of the lower jawbone. A combination of serous and mucous secretions are released by the glands in the submaxillary (mandibular) region.
  • glands under the tongue: These are located directly beneath the mucous membrane that covers the oral cavity’s floor beneath the tongue. The majority of the saliva generated by the sublingual glands is mucous in composition.


What is the role of saliva in the digestion of food?

Saliva’s function in the digestion of meals is to moisten food for swallowing and to break down starch into maltose. Saliva washes mouth and helps in killing the bacteria. The enzyme which helps to convert starch to maltose is Ptyalin.

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