Saliva and wound healing

Monogr Oral Sci. 2014:24:52-60. doi: 10.1159/000358784. Epub 2014 May 23.


Oral wounds heal faster and with less scar formation than skin wounds. One of the key factors involved is saliva, which promotes wound healing in several ways. Saliva creates a humid environment, thus improving the survival and functioning of inflammatory cells that are crucial for wound healing. In addition, saliva contains several proteins which play a role in the different stages of wound healing. Saliva contains substantial amounts of tissue factor, which dramatically accelerates blood clotting. Subsequently, epidermal growth factor in saliva promotes the proliferation of epithelial cells. Secretory leucocyte protease inhibitor inhibits the tissue-degrading activity of enzymes like elastase and trypsin. Absence of this protease inhibitor delays oral wound healing. Salivary histatins in vitro promote wound closure by enhancing cell spreading and cell migration, but do not stimulate cell proliferation. A synthetic cyclic variant of histatin exhibits a 1,000-fold higher activity than linear histatin, which makes this cyclic variant a promising agent for the development of a new wound healing medication. Conclusively, recognition of the many roles salivary proteins play in wound healing makes saliva a promising source for the development of new drugs involved in tissue regeneration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Histatins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mouth Mucosa / injuries*
  • Mouth Mucosa / physiology
  • Saliva / physiology*
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / physiology
  • Secretory Leukocyte Peptidase Inhibitor / physiology
  • Skin / injuries
  • Thromboplastin / physiology
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Histatins
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides
  • Secretory Leukocyte Peptidase Inhibitor
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Thromboplastin