Amino Acids and Proteins

Saliva contains hundreds of proteins and peptides (small chains of amino acids). Each of these amino acid aggregates create and support an ecological balance in healthy saliva. Many proteins have multiple activities and properties, and collectively their properties support important salivary functions. Proteins and amino acids contribute to the following salivary functions: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, tissue coating, wound healing, remineralization, digestion, lubrication, buffering and tasting. Mucins and lactoferrin are the only two proteins that are produced by all salivary glands. Mucins are a unique compound: 20% protein and 80% carbohydrate. Salivary protein composition does not remain static. It changes from infancy through adolescence and on into adulthood.2,31

Many salivary proteins contain a large amount of the amino acid proline, referred to as Proline Rich Proteins (PRP’s). Proline rich proteins make up 70% of all salivary proteins and are responsible for the formation and function of the acquired enamel pellicle, the protein-rich barrier that functions as an initial enamel protector. A less abundant amino acid, arginine is found free in saliva and plays a significant role in modulating oral pH values.2,31