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Foamy Saliva: What Does It Mean?

Your saliva plays an important role in helping you maintain good oral hygiene. If you don't have enough of it to wash away food particles and bacteria, plaque can develop on your teeth and gums. And that plaque could lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. But what does it mean if your saliva is foamy? We'll let you know why you may be experiencing frothy saliva, what conditions it could be a symptom of, and what you can do to get your saliva back to a condition you can smile about.

What Is Healthy Saliva?

Saliva in a healthy person consistently changes. For instance, you may have noticed your mouth turns dry when you're in a stressful situation, like before you have a job interview. Or you may have noticed that when you see, smell, or even think about delicious food, you salivate more. And the consistency of saliva can vary considerably, from clear and free-flowing to thick, stringy, sticky, or foamy. So there isn't exactly a "normal" consistency.

However, if you have a healthy mouth, your saliva will keep all of the surfaces moist nearly all the time. A consistently low level of saliva can lead to problems like cavities and gum disease. It can make chewing and swallowing difficult, and a dry mouth could signify a more severe condition.

Interesting fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47.2 percent of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease (or gum disease).

What Causes Foamy Saliva?

Foamy spit is usually the result of dry mouth. Dry mouth could be a short-term response to conditions like:

  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • Nervousness
  • Mouth-breathing

Dry mouth could also be a symptom of many oral and whole-body conditions. The following health conditions could cause xerostomia (the fancy term for dry mouth):

The Cleveland Clinic notes hundreds of medications, including over-the-counter medications, can also cause dry mouth, particularly the following:

  • Anti-depressants
  • Anxiety medication
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Pain medications

Learn more about saliva and why it's important.

Preventing Dry Mouth and Foamy Saliva

Drinking water and staying hydrated is the best way to resolve white, foamy saliva. Bring water with you, and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink it. Getting a humidifier can help keep moisture in the air, particularly if you live in a dry climate.

If you have a health condition, treating whatever is ailing you is the best way to improve saliva flow in the longterm. Still, there are immediate solutions in addition to drinking water that will help improve your saliva flow. These tips are helpful if medication is the cause of your dry mouth, too:

  • Consider using an over-the-counter oral moisturizer
  • Look for mouthrinses made specifically to help with dry mouth
  • Sugar-free gum and lozenges can help increase saliva flow
  • Ask your health professional if treatment can be adjusted to lessen potential adverse effects on your oral health

Whatever the cause of your foamy saliva, practicing good oral hygiene is always important and could improve your saliva flow. Brush at least twice a day and clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or water flossers at least once a day. Consider using other helpful products like antimicrobial mouthrinses and tongue scrapers. And be sure to see your dental professional for regular appointments – not only to keep your teeth pearly white and bacteria-free but also to check for any possible health conditions.

If you have saliva that's foamy regularly and it isn't resolved by staying hydrated, don't wait until your next cleaning to talk to your dental professional. Make an appointment right away and explain your symptoms. They can work with you to find out the cause, reduce your symptoms, and help you achieve a level of oral health you can smile about.

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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