Saliva and Your Mouth
Too Little Saliva continued...
Dry mouth is common in older adults, although the reasons are unclear. Diseases that affect the whole body (systemic disorders), poor nutrition, and the use of certain drugs are thought to play a key role.
Too little saliva and dry mouth can be caused by:
- Certain diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Sjogren's syndrome, diabetes, and Parkinson's
- Blockage in one or more tubes that drain saliva (salivary duct obstruction)
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- "Fight or flight" stress response
- Structural problem with a salivary duct
Hundreds of commonly used medicines are known to affect saliva flow and cause dry mouth, such as:
- Anxiety medicines
- Appetite suppressants
- Certain types of blood pressure drugs
- Diuretics (water pills)
- Most antidepressants
- Certain pain medicines (analgesics)
Always ask your health-care provider about side effects you might have when taking a medication.
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.