Oral Enzymes

Mouth enzymes: why oral enzymes are important

Oral enzymes play an important role in our oral health and help with the smooth-running of our oral defences. But why are enzymes important in the body and how exactly do they help us stay in good health?

We’ll explore why enzymes are important, what enzymes can be found in the mouth, where they’re produced and the role they play in aiding digestion and maintaining a healthy microbiome.  

Why enzymes are important

Blue enzymes cluster

Why are enzymes important in the body? They bind to molecules and alter them, to help to speed up chemical reactions in processes like respiration, digestion, the nervous system, muscles, and DNA replication, to name but a few1.

Enzymes in the mouth are present in our saliva, and are a key player in starting our digestive processes. Antimicrobial enzymes produced in the mouth are also vital for the health of the microbiome, as they help to balance the oral microbiome by for example breaking down bacterial cell walls.

How enzymes in the mouth interact with the food we eat

You might have heard the expression ‘digestion starts in the mouth’, and that’s thanks to mouth digestive enzymes. Our salivary glands2 are responsible for producing mouth secretions and enzymes and mouth enzymes are the first step in our digestive process, before the food we eat travels to our stomach and onwards to our intestines.

These oral enzymes break down complex foods into simple substances that are soluble, diffusible and absorbable. For example, when we consume foods made up of lipids, the enzyme found in the mouth called lingual lipase gets to work breaking down these large, complex molecules into smaller molecules. Amylase helps change starch into sugar. By converting these substances into glucose, these enzymes help our bodies use them as fuel.

What happens when our mouth enzymes are reduced?

Zendium toothpaste and mouthwash

If we don’t produce enough saliva or it starts to feel unusually thick or sticky, our oral health can become compromised. Problems with mouth secretions and enzymes can increase the risk of oral diseases like oral candida infections, tooth erosion and dental caries3. That’s why it’s important to do all we can to support the microbiome of the mouth. This can include supplementing the natural salivary enzyme system with oral healthcare products. 

Zendium products contain natural antibacterial enzymes to work in harmony with the mouth’s protective power. The mild formulas work to help support a balanced oral microbiome. Zendium Mouthwash contains no alcohol and is free from SLS, so it’s gentle on delicate mouths – as are Zendium’s toothpastes. Very tough, in fact. As Dentist Surina Sehgal notes

“In ground-breaking clinical research published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, Adams et al. tested Zendium against a standard fluoride toothpaste without enzymes and proteins to evaluate its effect on bacterial species in the mouth. The results were striking: After 14 weeks of use, Zendium shifted the balance of the oral microbiome towards a state of health, reflecting a significant increase in the proportion of gum health-associated bacterial species and a significant decrease in the proportion of gum disease-associated species4.” 

Now you know more about the important role of the enzymes that live in the mouth. Digestive enzymes and antimicrobial enzymes both play a crucial role in the healthy functioning of our mouths and bodies.


1 NCBI – The Central Role of Enzymes as Biological Catalysts

2 Britannica – Salivary glands

3 Zendium – Saliva: Natural Protection for Our Oral Cavity (PDF - 0.4MB)

4 Adams S.E. et al. Sci. Rep. 7 (2017) 43344

The advice in this article does not constitute medical advice; it is solely available for information purposes. We recommend that you consult your dentist if you are experiencing any tooth or gum problems.