Fact Checked

What is Ptyalism?

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

June 28, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Brian Harris, DDS

Ptyalism is the overproduction of saliva. Though it can happen to anyone, many pregnant women struggle with ptyalism during their first trimester. This condition can also cause drooling.

Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding oral infections helps keep ptyalism under control.

 

 

Ptyalism, what is it?

Ptyalism (also called hypersalivation) is when a person produces too much saliva. It is not considered a serious condition, and its cause is not fully known.

Saliva is a clear liquid produced by the salivary glands that help us chew and digest food. It has enzymes that aid digestion and ensure the body receives sufficient nutrition.

Saliva also helps heal oral wounds and reduces germ buildup inside the mouth. While ptyalism may cause you to produce too much saliva, it usually does not require instant medical treatment.

So, how much saliva does a person typically produce? A healthy person produces 0.75 and 1.5 liters of saliva per day.

Most people swallow saliva without any issues. However, if your mouth produces excess saliva, it can cause difficulties with eating and talking.

Causes for excessive saliva

Understanding the reasons for excess saliva can help you address the problem correctly.

Cavities

A common reason people experience excessive saliva in their mouths is because of cavities. The saliva helps protect the mouth against infections, germs, and health several other complications. The salivary glands naturally produce more saliva when there is a cavity.

Drug use

People who use certain tranquilizers and anticonvulsants can also experience higher salivary production. Saliva production is highest during sleep hours.

The body feels tired on tranquilizers; this triggers the salivary glands to produce excessive saliva.

Exposure to toxins

The human body reacts to toxins differently. All toxins are potential health hazards, and the body starts producing extra saliva if it is in contact with a toxin. Your body attempts to fight off harmful substances orally, preventing them from entering the bloodstream.

Gastroesophageal reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux is when the stomach acid moves back and forth between your stomach and esophagus. It is a digestive problem that the body tries to counter by producing more saliva.

You may also experience excessive saliva if you experience frequent vomiting or morning sickness. Vomiting can impact the digestive system; extra saliva helps soothe the stomach.

Infection

Saliva has antibacterial properties that help prevent infections. If you develop an infection, the body reacts by producing more saliva to kill the germs.

Too much saliva can lead to bad breath if there is a lot of plaque buildup in your mouth.

Pregnant women

Pregnancy and ptyalism are deeply connected, and several experts indicate this condition occurs because of hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Women typically start to experience this condition during the first trimester of pregnancy. Ptyalism usually resolves itself after the baby is delivered.

False teeth

The human mouth has a greater chance of developing infections without teeth. Bacteria can reach the bloodstream directly, and the gum tissue is more vulnerable. Older people with dentures have a higher probability of developing ptyalism.

Jaw fractures

Jaw fractures resulting from accidents or falls can increase excessive saliva production. This is because body tries to heal itself by producing additional saliva.

Poor oral hygiene

Saliva possesses antibacterial properties and helps keep the mouth clean. People with poor oral hygiene or tartar buildup have many germs and bacteria buildup. The body produces more saliva to neutralize the oral bacteria and infections.

Heartburn

Heartburn is a digestive complication due to an imbalance in stomach acids. Saliva has neutralizing properties. People with heartburn may notice increased saliva production.

Severe infections

Many severe infections such as rabies or tuberculosis can also increase the development of ptyalism. The body's defense is to produce more saliva.

Ulcers, inflammation, or mouth pain

Several oral issues such as inflammation and ulcers lead to more saliva creation. Producing more saliva is the body's defense mechanism against these health issues. Chewing sugarless gum can help.

How to identify Ptyalism?

Identifying ptyalism can help you address the problem, reduce health issues, and boost immunity.

Here are some common symptoms of Ptyalism:

  • Bad breath
  • Chapped lips
  • Dehydration
  • Infection of the skin around the mouth
  • Pneumonia
  • Poor sense of taste
  • Softening and damage to the skin around the mouth
  • Speech disturbance

Diagnosis

Diagnosing hypersalivation helps identify remedies to help the person's condition. Diagnosing Ptyalism is vital to help ease uncomfortable symptoms.

Doctors often check the following when diagnosing hypersalivation:

  • Alertness
  • Emotional state
  • Head posture
  • Hunger
  • Hydration
  • Jaw stability
  • Mouth, teeth, and surrounding skin
  • Nasal airways
  • Swallowing ability
  • Tongue control
  • Tonsils

Additional criteria doctors may consider:

  • Existing medical conditions
  • Ongoing medication
  • Frequency of hypersalivation
  • Amount of extra saliva
  • Quality of daily life

Treatment for excess saliva

Although excessive saliva does not directly result in serious health issues, it can cause other problems. People suffering from the ptyalism may struggle talking, eating, and sleeping.

Here are some ways to treat excess saliva:

Chewing sugarless gum

Chewing gum or sugarless candy can help you swallow saliva more frequently.

Medication

Medicines are another excellent alternative if you continue to experience excessive saliva production. These medicines help reduce saliva buildup . Anticholinergic medication can also be an effective option as well. That said, it is important to note that some medications may cause side effects, including:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Urinary retention

Home remedies

Many home remedies can also help people effectively deal with saliva production issues.

Brush your teeth regularly and floss daily. Rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash.

You'll also want to avoid excessively starchy foods to help retain saliva. Eating small frequent meals throughout the day will also help.

Drink water

Drinking plenty of water especially helps reduce saliva. Take small sips throughout the day to help with excessive salivation.