e-mail Print Share

Learn More About Artificial Saliva

Look for the ADA Seal—your assurance that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety and effectiveness by an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs.

What is artificial saliva?

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). Products are available in an aerosol or a liquid that is squirted into the mouth.

Why would someone use artificial saliva?

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 does—when used regularly—help moisten the oral tissues, relieving the discomfort caused by dry mouth. Speaking, chewing and swallowing are made easier when the mouth is moist. You may need to ask your pharmacist for the product. Artificial saliva does not require a prescription, but it can be difficult to find on store shelves.

What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth, also called xerostomia (zero-STOW-me-uh), 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 become much more common. Constant dryness and the lack of protection provided by saliva contribute to bad breath. Dry mouth also causes full dentures to become less comfortable because there is no thin film of saliva to help them adhere properly to oral tissues.

How is artificial saliva different from real saliva?

Although more than 99 percent of saliva is water, saliva also contains buffering agents, enzymes and minerals that 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.

How often is artificial saliva used?

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.

How does artificial saliva get the ADA Seal?

A company earns the ADA Seal for its product by producing scientific evidence that the product is safe and effective. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates the evidence according to objective guidelines. Artificial saliva currently on the market is a relatively simple product. The Council generally reviews the list of ingredients for safety and effectiveness.

Why look for artificial saliva brands that display the ADA Seal?

The Seal is your assurance that the artificial saliva has been evaluated by an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, for safety and effectiveness according to objective guidelines. Look for the ADA Seal statement in a box on the product label. It tells you why the ADA has given the Seal to this product. You can also be assured that all claims on packaging and container labeling have been reviewed and approved by the ADA. Products with the prestigious ADA Seal must say what they do and do what they say.

Additional Resources