Salivary amylase, also referred to as ptyalin, is the name of the enzyme found in saliva. Digestion of food begins in the mouth, and this enzyme is instrumental in beginning this process.
One major function of salivary amylase is to break down some of the starch found in food and change it into a simple sugar called maltose. It also aids in protecting the general health of the mouth by helping to break down food particles caught in the teeth and preventing tooth decay. Another of its purposes is to help maintain the pH of the mouth within the basic range.