Saliva is the liquid that is produced in our mouths by the salivary glands. It is made of 99.5% of water. The rest of the saliva is composed of enzymes, mucus, electrolytes and some anti-bacterial compounds.
The enzymes that are present in the saliva help in breaking down the ingested food. In a healthy person, almost 0.75 to 1 litre of saliva is produced in a day.
What causes excessive salivation?
When the amount of saliva produced exceeds this, it is known as hypersalivation. There are two main causes of hypersalivation- overproduction of saliva or reduced clearance of saliva.
There are day to day instances when excessive saliva is produced- when you see a tasty food item or when you consume something excessively spicy, more saliva is produced to counter the burning sensation caused by the spicy food.
- Reduced saliva clearance happens when there is a problem with the jaw or tonsillitis because of which swallowing the saliva becomes very difficult. Swallowing saliva is a natural involuntary occurrence. However, when you start focussing on it, you tend to swallow more and it further leads to excessive salivation to compensate for the lost saliva.
- Pregnancy and related hormonal changes can also cause excessive production of saliva.
- It can be a reaction to some medication that is being taken by you.
- Oral inflammation or infection also can cause excessive salivation.
How can you control excessive salivation?
Try to take your mind off the process of swallowing the saliva. Involve yourself in an engaging activity or go out. This will make sure that you are focussing on the saliva production and swallowing excess saliva and creating the need to produce more saliva.
- Try to keep off very oily foods like wafers, snacks with excessive salt.
- Consume a lot of dry foods such as whole grains, cereals and bread.
- Maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day. Rinse your mouth after every meal. A good mouthwash rinse will also help control the excessive production of saliva.
- Chewing sugar free gum can help control saliva and also give you a fresh breath.
- Always sleep on your back in the night. Sleeping on your side or on your stomach can lead to excessive salivation.
- Keep sipping lemon water throughout the day or suck lemon wedges to reduce the production of saliva in the mouth.
- Also helpful is chewing sunflower seeds (unsalted) which absorb the excess saliva that is produced in the mouth.
- Avoid any food that is very sweet, spicy or tangy.
- Try eating whole wheat crackers as a snack since this is known to control salivation.
- Avoid any food that causes nausea and subsequent acid reflux in your body.
- Drink plenty of water.
This kind of situation is normally temporary. With some care, the saliva production comes back to normal in most individuals. However, if it still doesn’t reduce, you should probably meet with your physician to know the underlying cause and treat that.
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