Saliva and Your Mouth
What Can I Do if I Have Too Little Saliva?
Try these tips to help keep your salivary glands healthy and your mouth moist and comfortable:
- Drink plenty of water
- Chew sugar-free gum
- Suck on sugar-free candy
If dry mouth persists, your doctor or dentist may recommend rinsing your mouth with artificial saliva. Artificial saliva is a liquid or spray sold without a prescription. It can be used as often as needed.
Artificial saliva helps keep your mouth moist and comfortable. But it doesn't contain the proteins, minerals, and other substances found in real saliva that help with digestion.
Too Much Saliva
Too much saliva is usually not something to worry about unless it persists. It's normal to make more or less saliva depending on what you eat or drink. Your body usually takes care of excess saliva by swallowing more.
You can make too much saliva if:
- One or more salivary gland is overactive
- You have problems swallowing
It is normal for your salivary glands to go into overdrive when you eat very spicy foods. Taste buds on your tongue play a big role in how much saliva you make. Pop something spicy or very sour in your mouth and your taste buds react by telling your body to make more saliva. Acidic foods tend to trigger a lot more saliva than sweet foods. If excess saliva bothers you, try changing your diet.
If you have a lot of saliva all the time, tell your health-care provider. It could be the side effect of a medication or the result of a medical condition or disease.
If you have problems swallowing, you may feel like you have a lot of saliva in your mouth and may drool. Chronic drooling is most often seen in people who have poor muscle control in the face and mouth.
Diseases and health conditions that can cause too much saliva include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig's disease
- Bell's palsy
- Cerebral palsy
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Enlarged tongue (macroglossia)
- Mental retardation
- Parkinson's disease
- Pregnancy (usually seen in those with extreme nausea and vomiting)
Medications that can cause too much saliva include:
There are many medical names for excess saliva. What your doctor calls it depends on what is causing the excess saliva. Hypersalivation and sialorrhea are general terms for increased saliva.
What Can I Do if I Have Too Much Saliva?
Treatment for excessive saliva depends on what is causing the problem. It may include:
- Prescription medicine
- Botox shots
Your doctor will probably first recommend a prescription medicine to help reduce the amount of saliva you make. Such medicines include glycopyrrolate and scopolamine. Common side effects include problems urinating, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, blurred vision, and sleepiness.
If you have severe drooling, your doctor may suggest Botox injections into one or more salivary glands. This treatment is considered safe, but results only last a few months. You will need to have more Botox shots in the future.
Surgery to remove a salivary gland or re-route a salivary duct may be done in severe cases. This type of surgery usually provides a permanent cure for excess saliva.