What The Color Of Your Saliva Can Tell You About Your Health

You probably don't think about your saliva too much aside from times when your decongestants give you that awful feeling of dry mouth. Saliva does a lot of work to disinfect your mouth. Just a small amount of saliva helps dislodge some of your salad from lunch, and the substances in your saliva can help fight disease and cavities (via Prevention). Although your saliva is mostly made of water, it also has proteins, enzymes, and hormones (via Healthgrades).

Your saliva should be relatively clear and thin, so a particular color or texture can indicate a few conditions. According to Healthgrades, if you see blood in your saliva, particularly after brushing your teeth, it could indicate gingivitis or periodontitis. Bloody or inflamed gums could mean there are bacteria in your heart or blood vessels. Yellow saliva could be the presence of phlegm, so you could have a viral or bacterial infection (via Practo).

If your saliva is thick with white bumps, it could be a sign of a yeast infection — or thrush — in your mouth. Thrush is caused by the Candida albicans fungus building up inside your mouth (via Prevention).

What causes thrush?

Certain medications like antibiotics or corticosteroids can disrupt the balance of microbes in your mouth (via Cleveland Clinic). People with diabetes, cancer, dry mouth, or weakened immune systems from conditions such as HIV can also be at higher risk of thrush. Babies, toddlers, and people over 65 are also more susceptible to the infection.

Along with thick, white saliva, thrush can also cause white bumps in your mouth. This can make it difficult to swallow, and food can get stuck in your mouth. Your mouth could feel red and sore, and you might also experience a loss of taste. Treating thrush usually involves taking antifungal medication. If thrush is left untreated in someone with a weak immune system, the candida fungus can spread to other parts of the body such as your brain and heart.

You can prevent thrush by practicing good oral hygiene and avoiding smoking. Limit sugar, bread, and wine, which can cause an overgrowth of Candida in your mouth. Check with your dentist about the right kind of mouthwash, because some can also disrupt your mouth's microbial balance and contribute to infection.