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Is it normal to have excessive saliva during pregnancy?
Yes, it's normal to have more saliva when you're pregnant. Excessive salivation is called ptyalism, or sialorrhea, and the condition won't affect your baby.
Under normal circumstances, your salivary glands produce about 1 1/2 quarts of saliva a day, but you generally don't notice it because you swallow continually and unconsciously. If you suddenly seem to have a lot more saliva in your mouth now that you're pregnant, you actually may be producing more or swallowing less – or a combination of the two.
Some women feel as though they salivate more than usual when they're nauseated. A few pregnant women have so much saliva they need to spit some out.
Why do I have excessive saliva during pregnancy?
You might salivate more during pregnancy from:
- Hormonal changes. Experts don't know why some women have excessive saliva in early pregnancy, but hormonal changes may be one cause.
- Nausea. Feeling nauseated can make some women try to swallow less, and this can cause saliva to build up in the mouth. Ptyalism is more common among women suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness.
- Heartburn. Producing more saliva can also be related to heartburn, which is common during pregnancy. The contents of your stomach are acidic and can irritate your esophagus when they back up. The acid sensors in your esophagus then trigger your salivary glands to produce saliva with a higher concentration of bicarbonate, which is alkaline. Each time you swallow, your saliva bathes the walls of your esophagus and helps neutralize the stomach acid. (This may also explain why women who are vomiting tend to salivate more.)
- Irritants. Certain irritants, like smoke, may also cause increased saliva as can tooth decay and other oral infections, some medications, exposure to toxins (such as mercury and pesticides), and some medical conditions.
What can I do to salivate less during pregnancy?
Tell your provider that you have excessive saliva so she can help you identify and treat any underlying problems, such as nausea, vomiting, or heartburn. There may not be much else you can do, although some women report that the following measures help:
- Brush your teeth, and use mouthwash several times a day.
- Eat small, well-balanced meals often, and don't eat a lot of starchy food.
- Drink plenty of water. Keep a water bottle handy, and take small sips frequently. (This also helps you stay hydrated.)
- Swallow any excess saliva if you can. Also, try sucking on hard candy or chewing sugarless gum. This won't make you produce less saliva, but it will make it easier to swallow the saliva you do produce.
- If swallowing your saliva makes you feel nauseated, spit out the excess into a tissue, washcloth, or cup.
For many women, this annoying – and sometimes downright distressing – problem lessens or disappears as nausea subsides around the end of the first trimester. However, just like nausea or morning sickness, it can last throughout pregnancy for a small number of women.