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Excessive Saliva? What It Could Mean (and How to Deal)

If someone uses the phrase “mouth-watering,” it’s usually a compliment or a sign that they’re appreciating good food. But if your mouth is literally watering, that’s a little different. Excessive saliva, known as hypersalivation, can cause you discomfort and embarrassment and might also lead to other complications. Find out what causes excessive saliva and how to treat it.

What Is Saliva and What Is Its Purpose?

Saliva is derived from blood, which helps maintain the health of hard and soft tissues in your mouth. Healthy saliva flow can wash food away from the teeth and gums, breaks down food for easy swallowing, enhances your ability to taste, and prevents cavities and other infections. Saliva even keeps the surface of your teeth strong by contributing high levels of calcium and fluoride. So, while reduced saliva flow, known as dry mouth, can cause swallowing and digestion problems, excessive saliva in your mouth is also a cause for concern.

Causes of Excessive Saliva

Drooling in infants and toddlers is normal and may often happen while they’re teething. Drooling or hypersalivation in adults is usually associated with infections or nervous system disorders.

Hypersalivation in adults is primarily caused by:

  • Mononucleosis or sinus infections
  • Strep throat or tonsillitis
  • Allergies
  • Heartburn or GERD
  • Pregnancy
  • Use of certain medicines
  • Reaction to pesticide poisoning or snake or insect venom
  • Nervous system disorders that cause difficulty with swallowing, like cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, autism, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Some people who have excessive saliva are at an increased risk of aspirating saliva, foods, or fluids into their lungs. This can cause problems if they’re also facing issues with bodily reflexes, for example, coughing or gagging. Excessive saliva over time can also cause skin breakdown around the chin and lip area.

How to Treat Excessive Saliva

Treatment for excessive saliva depends on your overall health and other symptoms that you may be having. It is best accomplished by a multidisciplinary team, from primary care physicians to speech therapists, neurologists, and dentists. If you find yourself having excessive saliva in your mouth, it’s essential to consult with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan.

A study in New Approaches in Diagnostics and Treatment recommends that treatment interventions, including speech and swallowing therapy, medications, Botox, and use of oral prosthetic devices, among other things, be used. MedlinePlus notes that a speech therapist can determine if hypersalivation increases the risk of you breathing foods or fluids into your lungs.

Having excessive saliva can be quite uncomfortable, so you must seek out treatment as soon as possible. Consult with your doctor so that together you can find a treatment plan that manages the excessive saliva and makes you feel comfortable and confident.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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