Excess Saliva during Pregnancy

Of all the amazing and bizarre changes that occur when you’re expecting, you may be surprised to know that it is common to have excess saliva during pregnancy.  This condition of having more saliva than usual is known as ptyalism or sialorrhea.  While having excess saliva during pregnancy may feel uncomfortable, it does not pose a medical threat to expectant moms or their babies.

Saliva is necessary for several important purposes, which may be even more helpful during pregnancy.  We typically produce 1.5 quarts of saliva daily, which has essential enzymes that help us digest our food and neutralize acidity in the body.  Moreover, saliva has antibacterial and antiviral properties that help fight of infections, especially those of the teeth and gums that are more prevalent during pregnancy.  And saliva helps lubricate the mouth, of course.

Ptylaism is usually worse in the first trimester and often subsides as moms-to-be enter their second trimester.  But for some, excess saliva persists throughout pregnancy.  There may be several causes for this condition, including hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, and is commonly associated with an upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and heartburn.

Excess Saliva during PregnancyNausea can contribute to excess saliva during pregnancy because it tends to decrease the urge to swallow.  This results in extra saliva production.  Vomiting often leads to extra saliva too as the body attempts to compensate for dehydration.  Also, heartburn caused by the rise of gastric acid from the stomach through the esophagus may trigger excess saliva during pregnancy as a mechanism to try to counterbalance the acidity.

If you suffer from excess saliva during pregnancy, there are a few tricks to dealing with the problem:

  • First, try to swallow the saliva if possible.
  • If you feel it is too much to swallow, spit it out.  Drink plenty of fluids to maintain hydration.
  • Eating water-based fruits, vegetables and foods can help as well, and try sucking on ice cubes if drinking is difficult.
  • Suck on mints or other hard candies or chew sugar-free gum.
  • Brush teeth often and rinse with mouthwash.
  • Avoid eating foods that will cause you to salivate, such as spicy or sour foods.

Excess saliva during pregnancy can be uncomfortable but it is manageable.  Hang in there and know that this, and all of your other pregnancy symptoms, will eventually subside.