- Artificial saliva is a product that is used by people who have too little of their own naturally occurring saliva (a condition known as dry mouth or xerostomia).
- Although artificial saliva is not a perfect substitute for natural saliva (which is very complex physically and chemically), it can—when used regularly and as directed—help moisten the oral tissues and lessen the discomfort caused by dry mouth.
- A company earns the ADA Seal of Acceptance by producing scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of its product, which the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates according to objective requirements.
Artificial saliva is a product that is used by people who have too little of their own naturally occurring saliva (a condition known as dry mouth). Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, results from an inadequate flow of saliva. Drying irritates the soft tissues in the mouth, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection. Severe dry mouth can promote the growth of harmful organisms. Without the cleansing and shielding effects of adequate saliva flow, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease are more likely to occur.
Constant dryness and the lack of protection provided by saliva contribute to bad breath. Dry mouth may also cause full dentures to become less comfortable because there is no thin film of saliva to help them adhere properly to oral tissues. Artificial saliva products are available in various forms, such as aerosols or liquids that are squirted into the mouth.
Saliva coats and lubricates tissues in the mouth. It helps cleanse the mouth and begins the digestive process as we chew. When the saliva glands do not produce enough saliva, the mouth becomes dry. Although artificial saliva is not a perfect substitute for natural saliva (which is very complex physically and chemically), it can—when used regularly and as directed—help moisten the oral tissues and lessen the discomfort caused by dry mouth. Speaking, chewing and swallowing are made easier when the mouth is moist.
Although more than 99 percent of saliva is water, saliva also contains buffering agents, enzymes and minerals that help keep teeth strong and play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment in the mouth. Artificial salivas normally contain a mixture of buffering agents, cellulose derivatives (to increase stickiness and moistening ability) and flavoring agents (such as sorbitol). However, they do not contain the digestive and antibacterial enzymes and other proteins or minerals present in real saliva. Research is underway to try and develop artificial salivas that more closely mimic natural saliva.
Patients may need to ask their pharmacist for the product. Artificial saliva does not require a prescription, but it can be difficult to find on store shelves. It can be used as often as needed. Saliva substitutes are quickly swallowed and, therefore, the moistening and lubricating action has limited duration and repeat applications may be needed. Although saliva substitutes will not cure dry mouth, they can provide temporary relief of some symptoms.
ADA Seal of Acceptance
A company earns the ADA Seal of Acceptance by producing scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of its product. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates the evidence according to objective requirements.
- Professional Resources
There are currently no products Accepted in the ADA Seal category of artificial saliva.
- ADA Council on Scientific Affairs Report: Managing xerostomia and salivary gland hypofunction--executive summary and full report
- ADA Oral Health Topics: Aging and Dental Health and Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
- ADA Professional Product Review: Palliative Over-the-Counter (OTC) Treatments for Oral Dryness and Inflammation (PDF; pages 21-24)
- JADA “For the Patient” pages: Managing dry mouth, Oral moisturizers: Products that can help relieve dry mouth, and Sealing the deal: Buying products that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance
- ADA MouthHealthy: Dry Mouth, Dry Mouth Quiz, Medications and Oral Health, and Saliva
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