What is Ptyalism?

Ptyalism is one of those ideal cocktail party words which no one knows the meaning of and makes you sound oh-so fancy (if you can pronounce it that is). Ptyalism (tahy-uh-liz-uh m) means nothing more than the presence of excess saliva.

Although it can occur in anyone, it is most common in pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness and extreme nausea, especially during the first trimester. This is probably due to changing hormones that pregnant women experience, or the fact that women who feel nausea are less apt to swallow which allows saliva to build up in the mouth.

Another estimated reason is that salivary glands produce more saliva when a person has heartburn or nausea to create a protective coating on the mouth and esophagus when frequent vomiting is present.

While there is no particular remedy for ptyalism, if you are experiencing symptoms, try these strategies to help reduce your discomfort:

  1. Brush your teeth
  • You should not alter your oral health routine any way during pregnancy. Continue brushing your teeth and using mouthwash several times a day to eliminate excess saliva as well as make it easier for you to swallow.
  1. Drink up
  • To cope with the extra saliva being produced by your body, be sure to maintain a high fluid intake to prevent dehydration (eight glasses of water daily is recommended). Taking sips of water frequently will allow you to swallow excess saliva without provoking nausea.
  1. Opt for healthier meals
  • Try to eliminate overly starchy foods (like white bread) and eat smaller meals frequently as opposed to a large breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  1. Go for gum
  • Chewing sugarless gum can make it easier for you to swallow a surplus of saliva. Additionally, some women reported sucking on hard sugarless candy had the same benefits as gum. Just be sure to avoid sour candies, as they will increase the production of saliva.

Most symptoms are reduced by the end of the first trimester, but like nausea, it may continue throughout the course of pregnancy for some women. Luckily, ptyalism tends to disappear completely after the birth of the child.