While excessive salivation commences on the first trimester of pregnancy, it becomes more distinct in the second trimester. In majority of cases, moms-to-be suffer more excessive salivation during this period. It should be mentioned however that pregnancy is a unique experience to every pregnant mother and so, not all symptoms (including their duration) are similar to everyone.
Did you know that human salivary glands produce approximately 1.5 quarts of saliva a day?
Importance of Saliva
Just to have an overview, the following are what saliva can do to the body:
- Saliva serves as lubricant in the mouth.
- Saliva produces enzymes necessary for digestion.
- Saliva contains proteins that have antiviral and antibacterial properties that help protect mouth.
- Saliva keeps mouth moist.
- Saliva carries minerals that protect tooth enamel from tooth decay and dental caries.
- Saliva can help secure dentures in place.
What Causes Excessive Salivation during Pregnancy
Excessive salivation during pregnancy – or medically termed as ptyalism – is the extreme production of saliva when pregnant. This occurs when salivary glands go overdrive as a result of surging hormones. Ptyalism is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, but not common to all mothers. A mother who has ptyalism may find her own saliva tastes differently or she is not just comfortable swallowing her own spit. Pregnant mothers also tend to throw out every time.
Mothers who are diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (a severe form of morning sickness) are more likely to suffer ptyalism. Their link is quite established in medical studies. Meanwhile, another contributing factor of excessive salivation is heartburn. The acid that backs up from stomach can trigger salivary glands to produce more saliva to counteract acidity. Other risk factors of ptyalism are smoking, oral problems (e.g tooth decay), mouth infections, certain medications and pesticides.
Does Excessive Salivation Affect the Baby?
Ptyalism has no direct significant effect to baby and therefore, not harmful. However, it is important that pregnant mothers are kept hydrated because of frequent spitting of saliva. Dehydration in pregnancy results in poor milk production and low production of amniotic fluid which serves as the baby’s support system. Amniotic fluid cushions and protects the baby throughout the pregnancy. Moreover, low amniotic fluid may lead to miscarriage or birth defects.
Ways to Alleviate Excessive Salivation during Pregnancy
The good news is that there are some measures that pregnant mothers can take to decrease* saliva production. Find out how below.
- Control morning sickness by taking light breakfast. Crackers are the best food choices for nausea. Sucking a piece of lemon or lime can decrease* production of saliva.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can trigger excessive salivation.
- See a dentist. The doctor will examine whether an oral infection or a mouth problem is present.
- Brush teeth daily – twice is enough, thrice is ideal. Floss daily.
- Avoid intake of large volumes of starchy foods.
- Suck ice cubes.
- To manage heartburn, avoid spicy, greasy and fatty foods, and eat in small frequent feedings.
- Drink plenty of water since frequent spitting can lead to dehydration.
- Chew sugarless gum and hard candies to reduce* saliva production. However, avoid sour candies.
Often, excessive salivation begins to subside at the end of the first trimester (along with morning sickness) but may continue to persist throughout pregnancy for a small portion of pregnant mothers. Ptyalism is harmless and poses no risk to the mother and the baby. It can be annoying though especially when you are drooling and spitting out in public places.