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

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Excessive salivation during pregnancy is common, especially at the early stages. You may salivate more and, at times, even drool when pregnant. Hypersalivation is also known by other medical terms such as ptyalism gravidarum and sialorrhea (1).

The condition may occur along with nausea and vomiting. Read this post as we tell you whether or not it is normal for pregnant women to salivate more and how to manage the condition with or without medications.

In This Article

Increased Salivation In Pregnancy: Is It Common?

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.

protip_icon Quick fact
A pregnant woman with hypersalivation may produce up to two liters of saliva daily (17).

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 after childbirth or delivery.

The graph below presents the typical onset and resolution time of Ptyalism gravidarum symptoms in pregnant women. According to the data, the symptoms began to appear during gestational weeks 4 or 5-6 in 37% of the pregnancies. In 55% of pregnancies, symptoms manifested at week 8, and in 8% of cases, they occurred at week 13.

Regarding resolution time, 20% of the women experienced symptom relief at 20-21 weeks gestation, 14% shortly before delivery, and 53% immediately after giving birth.

Appearance and resolution of Ptyalism gravidarum symptoms in pregnant women

Source: Characteristics and Outcomes of Ptyalism Gravidarum

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.

protip_icon Research finds
A small study indicates that ptyalism gravidarum (excess salivation) may be associated with a male fetus and small-for-gestational-age babies (18).

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).

    Nausea may lead to an excessive build up of saliva

    Image: IStock

  • Medications: One of the side effects of certain medicines is the excessive production of saliva. AnticonvulsantsiXDrugs used to treat or prevent seizures or convulsions by controlling abnormal activity in the brain. , tranquilizers, and anticholinergic medicinesiXDrugs that block and inhibit the activity of the ACh neurotransmitter at the central and peripheral nervous system. intervene with the functioning of the salivary glands and block parasympathetic innervationiXResponsible for the simulation of rest-and-digest activities that occur when the body is at rest. , resulting in more saliva production (5).
  • Heartburn: Acid reflux or heartburn is a condition when the valve between the stomach and the 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 dental 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).

    Oral infections can cause excessive salivation during pregnancy

    Image: Shutterstock

  • 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 is present in the medications/substances you are exposed to (9).
  • Maternal anxiety: Pregnancy is a time when women experience physical discomfort, mental anxiety, and stress. They tend to swallow less saliva when they are anxious, and this feels like excess saliva is being produced (10).
  • Gag reflex: This reflex occurs in the back of the throat to prevent swallowing something foreign. Drooling or hypersalivation can be caused if a person has some problems with reflexes like gagging or coughing.
  • Sleep deprivation: Excess salivation or drooling is more likely to happen when you are sleeping as you are not conscious. Sleep apnea is caused when the airway is blocked while you are asleep which leads to excess saliva or drooling due to irregular breathing.

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.

protip_icon Point to consider
Some studies indicate that hypnosis with acupuncture treatment may help alleviate excessive salivation during pregnancy. However, more studies are required to validate this finding (17).

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 helps to break down starch into maltoseiXSugar formed by two molecules of simple sugar glucose bonded together. and then into glucose, ensuring proper digestive system functioning (11).

    Increased salivation aids in digestion

    Image: IStock

  1. 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).
  1. 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).
  1. 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).
  1. Natural defense against bacteria: Oral infections and bacteria may form plaqueiXA thin film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. 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.

How Do You Get Rid Of Excess Saliva During Pregnancy?

Dr. Michael Green, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist from Lake Arrowhead, California, says, “Some ways to reduce excess saliva are to chew or suck on sugarless candies or gum, stay hydrated, and avoid any trigger foods that worsen the sensation. Typically, salivation is more excessive in the first trimester and peters off by the second. It may gradually improve for some women as their pregnancy develops.”  Here are several practical tips and home remedies you can try to get relief from hypersalivation.

  1. Keep a note of your water intake. Always keep a bottle of water at your side and stay hydrated at all times to prevent dehydration. Hypersalivation if not managed well can sometimes lead to dehydration.

    Stay hydrated at all times

    Image: IStock

  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 to ensure optimum prenatal care. 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.

    Munch on dry biscuits to soak the extra saliva

    Image: Shutterstock

  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 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 causing problems other than discomfort, then minor lifestyle changes, such as drinking enough water, may help. However, if it is becoming intense and resulting in excessive vomiting, you should consult your doctor to know how to manage the condition better and look for other contributing causes.

4. Are there any health concerns associated with excessive saliva during pregnancy?

Excessive salivation during pregnancy is not harmful to the developing fetus and has not been associated with any serious health complications (19).

5. Are there any medical treatments available for excessive saliva during pregnancy?

A study has reported clonidine hydrochloride to be effective in treating excessive salivation in pregnant women. However, the treatment is subject to further research (20).

Excessive saliva during pregnancy is common, and it is mostly caused by nausea and vomiting, especially in the early stages. Therefore, there is no need to be concerned about this condition. In fact, it may even help address other common pregnancy issues such as indigestion, heartburn, and mouth infections. However, if it irritates you and interferes with your daily life, you could try some helpful salivation prevention and reduction measures. For example, staying hydrated, brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, and avoiding starchy meals might be beneficial.

Infographic: Causes Of Hypersalivation In Pregnancy

During pregnancy, increased hormones, such as progesterone, can cause the glands in the mouth to produce more saliva. This can result in ptyalism or excessive saliva production, also known as hypersalivation. Other factors that can contribute to hypersalivation during pregnancy are illustrated in the following infographic. Take a look and share with others as well.

causes of hypersalivation in pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Hypersalivation during pregnancy is a common condition that typically decreases as pregnancy progresses, but it may persist until delivery in some women.
  • Hormonal changes are the most likely cause of hypersalivation during pregnancy. Other potential causes include nausea, anxiety, certain medications, heartburn, and oral infections.
  • Hypersalivation during pregnancy may serve several beneficial functions, including aiding in digestion, neutralizing acid, lubricating the mouth, and protecting against bacterial infections.
  • Women experiencing hypersalivation during pregnancy may benefit from staying well hydrated, practicing good oral hygiene, reducing their intake of starchy foods, and chewing sugarless gum.

Pregnancy can bring about many changes, including excessive saliva production in the mouth. Learn more about gravidic ptyalism and how to manage this condition during pregnancy.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
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