Research-backed

Excessive Saliva During Pregnancy: Reasons, Benefits And Tips To Control

salivation during pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

IN THIS ARTICLE

Are you pregnant and salivating more than usual? So much so that you tend to drool sometimes? Excess saliva during pregnancy is common, especially in the first trimester. In medical terms, this condition is called ptyalism gravidarum, sialorrhea or hypersalivation (1). It is usually accompanied by vomiting and nausea.

In this MomJunction post, we tell you if it is normal to salivate more during pregnancy, why it happens and how to treat or manage it with and without medical assistance.

Increased Salivation In Pregnancy: Is It Common?

Yes, excess salivation is common during the first stage of pregnancy, although it reduces as the months pass by. However, if you have nausea, it may continue in the second trimester as well, and sometimes lasts until the delivery.

An average person produces around 60 ounces of saliva in a day (2). When pregnant, this amount goes up. You may notice the change if you are salivating more than usual or have difficulty swallowing the saliva because of nausea or vomiting. Either way, it is normal.

When In Pregnancy Does Hypersalivation Usually Start?

Increased saliva production begins in the first trimester of pregnancy, usually in the second or third week (1). For some women, it reduces by the beginning of the second trimester. But for others, the condition persists throughout their pregnancy and disappears only after delivery.

The origin or exact cause of excessive salivation during pregnancy is unknown, although it is most likely due to the hormonal changes. In any case, there is absolutely no need to worry about this condition.

[ Read: Heartburn During Pregnancy ]

Causes Of Hypersalivation In Pregnancy

Some of the causes that might lead to excessive saliva during pregnancy are:

  • Nausea: This is a common symptom that you will experience in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Nausea may prevent you from swallowing, leading to an excessive build-up of the saliva. Morning sickness that is severe and lasting longer than usual is called hyperemesis gravidarum (3) (4).
  • Medications: One of the side effects of certain medicines is excessive production of saliva. Anticonvulsants, tranquilizers, and anticholinergic medicines intervene with the functioning of the salivary glands and block parasympathetic innervation, resulting in more saliva production (5).
  • Heartburn: Acid reflux or heartburn is a condition when the valve between the stomach and esophagus opens, allowing the stomach acid to move into the esophagus. When it occurs during pregnancy, women experience throat irritation or a burning sensation in the chest. The acid activates the salivary glands, which increases the production of saliva (6). Even if you have certain allergies, you may experience ptyalism (7).
  • Hormonal changes: Excessive saliva is produced more during early pregnancy and the third trimester. Doctors say it could be due to hormonal changes, but there is no proper scientific evidence to prove it.
  • Oral infection: Optimal oral health is essential for pregnant women. But healthy pregnant women can also have oral cavity problems that might increase the risks of oral infection. This may lead to ptyalism too (8).
  • Irritants or chemicals: Exposure to certain toxins and chemicals could be responsible for ptyalism during pregnancy. Also, certain medications for oral infections or any vulnerability to pesticides could result in increased salivation. This usually occurs when mercury in present in the medications/substances you are exposed to (9).
  • Maternal anxiety: Pregnancy is a time when women experience physical discomfort and mental anxiety. They tend to swallow less saliva when they are anxious, and this feels like excess saliva is being produced (10).

Irrespective of what is causing excessive saliva in pregnancy, you shouldn’t be worried, for it is a common symptom and will subside eventually. Increased salivation could even be good for you sometimes.

Are There Any Benefits Of Excess Saliva?

Yes, hypersalivation helps manage a few concerns that are common during pregnancy.

  1. Helps in digestion: Indigestion is pretty common in pregnancy. Increased salivation aids in digestion by helping to break down starch into maltose and then to glucose (11).
  2. Neutralizes acids: Saliva contains phosphorus and calcium and is considered a relative of blood. It neutralizes the acids and maintains gastroesophageal reflux, and eventually soothes heartburn, which is a common symptom of pregnancy (6).
  3. Lubricates mouth: Dry mouth is one of the common symptoms during early pregnancy (12). The production of mucus with increased salivation lubricates the mouth and prevents food from sticking to the gums and teeth (13).
  4. Oral hygiene: Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are likely to increase the risks of oral infections. However, excessive saliva moistens the mouth, keeps away germs and bad breath, and prevents gum diseases and tooth decay (14).
  5. Natural defense against bacteria: Oral infections and bacteria may form plaque in the mouth (15). The salivary glands collect nitrate (from blood) and help in fighting bacteria, hence acting as a natural defense against agents that could harm gums and teeth.

Although excessive salivation is good, it becomes irritating when accompanied by nausea and morning sickness. There are, however, ways to treat it.

[ Read: Nausea And Vomiting During Pregnancy ]

How Do You Get Rid Of Excess Saliva During Pregnancy?

There are several remedies you can try to get relief from hypersalivation.

  1. Always keep a bottle of water at your side and stay hydrated at all times
  1. Brush your teeth twice a day. Also, rinse using a mouthwash as many times as you can during the day, to get rid of the excess saliva.
  1. Reduce the amount of starchy food in your diet and eat well-balanced meals. Try to have small meals at regular intervals throughout the day. Also, you can add fibrous vegetables and fruits to your diet.
  1. Suck on sugarless chewing gum or candy to swallow the extra saliva. While this won’t bring down the production of saliva, it will make swallowing a lot easier. Sucking on ice cubes is another trick that makes your mouth numb for a while and pauses the secretion of saliva.
  1. Munch on dry biscuits, it can help soak the extra saliva in your mouth
  1. If you have difficulty swallowing the excessive saliva, spit out in a cup, tissue, or washcloth, and then throw it.
  1. Treating ptyalism with drugs is considered challenging, as the exact cause is not known. Medications such as belladonna and phenothiazine can be taken, although they have certain side-effects such as constipation and dry mouth (16).

Some more questions related to saliva during pregnancy are answered next.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I prevent excessive saliva in pregnancy?

No, increased secretion of saliva is a natural, short-term condition in pregnancy and cannot be prevented. There is no need to worry about it since it doesn’t affect your baby in any way (17). Keep calm, use the natural remedies that offer relief, and try distracting yourself.

2. When does the production of excess saliva end?

Just like the other symptoms of pregnancy, increased salivation is unpleasant and disturbing but tends to go away after the first trimester. However, for some women it may continue into the second and third trimester as well, fading completely after the delivery.

3. Is it necessary to visit the doctor?

If the condition is not creating any problems other than causing a little discomfort, then you do not have to visit the doctor. However, if it is becoming intense and resulting in excessive vomiting, you should consult your doctor to know how to manage the condition better.

[ Read: Infections To Be Aware Of During Pregnancy ]

Did you experience increased salivation during pregnancy? What remedies proved helpful in your case? Share your experiences in the comment section.

References:

1. S. Suzuki, M. Igarashi, E. Yamashita & M Satomi; Ptyalism gravidarum; North American Journal of Medical Sciences (2009)
2. D. Harris; Spit it out: 4 things saliva reveals about your health; Augusta University (2017)
3. Hyperemesis Gravidarum; American Pregnancy Association (2018) Nausea (Morning Sickness) During Pregnancy; PregMed
4. N. G. Hockstein, D. S. Samadi, K. Gendron & S. D. Handler; Sialorrhea: A Management Challenge; American Family Physician Foundation (2004)
5. Ptyalism; PregMed (2016)
6. L. Mandel and K. Tamari; Sialorrhea and gastroesophageal reflux; Journal of American Dental Association (1995)
7. J. A. Giglio, S. M. Lanni, D. M. Laskin & N. W. Giglio; Oral Health Care for the Pregnant Patient; Pratique Clinique (2009)
8. T. G. Jayakaran; The Effect of Drugs in the Oral Cavity – A Review; Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (2014)
9. H. S. Kane, C. D. Schetter, L. M. Glynn, C. J. Hobel & C. A. Sandman; Pregnancy anxiety and prenatal cortisol trajectories; Journal Biological Psychology (2014)
10. Zuhrah Beevi, Wah Yun Low & Jamiyah Hassan (2015) Successful Treatment of Ptyalism Gravidarum With Concomitant Hyperemesis Using Hypnosis, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 58:2, 215-223, DOI: 10.1080/00029157.2015.1013186
11. Rio R, Azevedo A, Simões-Silva L, Marinho J, Silva MJ, Sampaio-Maia B; The biochemistry of saliva throughout pregnancy; MedicalExpress (São Paulo, online). 2015;2(5):M150506.
12. Dry Mouth During Pregnancy; PregMed (2015)
13. Increased Saliva in Early Pregnancy; New Health Guide
14. Reddy RS, Amara SL, Tatapudi R, Koppolu P, Nimma VL, Reddy RL. Awareness and attitude towards maintenance of oral health during pregnancy among patients and clinicians attending obstetrics and gynecology ward. J NTR Univ Health Sci 2013;2:102-8
15. E. Hajikazemi and F. Haghdoost Osquei (2012). Oral and Dental Health in Pregnancy, Oral Health Care – Pediatric, Research, Epidemiology and Clinical Practices, Prof. Mandeep Virdi (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0133-8, InTech, Available from:
16. Z. Beevi, W. Y. Low & J. Hassan (2015) Successful Treatment of Ptyalism Gravidarum With Concomitant Hyperemesis Using Hypnosis, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 58:2, 215-223, DOI: 0.1080/00029157.2015.1013186. Available from:
17. Excessive saliva in pregnancy; NCT

Recommended Articles:

Featured Image