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Salivary Glands: Important in Digestion
The salivary glands are accessory organs that are part of the digestive system of humans. Humans have three pairs of salivary glands.
Types and Location
There are three types of salivary glands:
- Parotid glands: They are located ahead and below the ears, between the masseter muscle and the cutis.
- Submandibular glands: located on the floor of the mouth, under the root of the tongue.
- Sublingual glands: Located in the region anterior to the submandibular glands.
They have the important function of releasing a liquid called saliva. It consists of 99.5% water and 0.5% solutes.
Saliva has an important function to act in the dissolution of foods, allowing them to be tasted. Saliva also starts the process of food digestion.
One of the enzymes present in saliva is salivary amylase, which is responsible for starting the process of digesting carbohydrates in the mouth.
Another very important enzyme present in saliva is lysozyme. This enzyme acts to fight bacteria in the mouth, protecting it against infections. Lysozyme is also important to prevent the formation and development of tooth decay.
Saliva still has other important functions, such as allowing the humidification of the lips and tongue while the individual speaks.