What is drooling?
Drooling is defined as saliva flowing outside of your mouth unintentionally.
It’s often a result of weak or underdeveloped muscles around your mouth or
having too much saliva.
The glands that make your saliva are called the salivary glands. You have
six of these glands, located on the bottom of your mouth, in your cheeks, and
near your front teeth. These glands typically make 2 to 4 pints of saliva a
day. When these glands make too much saliva, you may experience drooling.
Drooling is normal in the first two years of life. Infants don’t often
develop full control of swallowing and the muscles of the mouth until they are
between 18 and 24 months old. Babies might also drool when they’re teething.
Drooling can occur in people who have neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy as
What are the causes
and risk factors for drooling?
Drooling can be a symptom of a medical condition, developmental
delay, or a result of taking certain medications. Anything that leads to
excessive saliva production, difficulty swallowing, or problems with muscle
control may lead to drooling.
Drooling begins after birth and peaks between three and six months as
infants become more active. This is normal, especially when going through the
teething process, so you shouldn’t worry.
Diets high in acidic content often cause excessive saliva production.
Certain medical conditions can put you at risk for drooling. If a disease
that decreases control of facial muscles affects you, you are more likely to
drool. Neurologic disorders such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis, or stroke may cause muscle weakness that affects the
ability to close the mouth and swallow saliva.
Drooling is usually caused by excess saliva in the mouth. Medical conditions
such as acid reflux and
pregnancy can increase saliva production. Allergies, tumors, and above-the-neck
infections such as strep
infection, and sinusitis
can all impair swallowing.
How is drooling
Drooling isn’t always treated. Your doctor usually won’t recommend any
treatment for someone under the age of 4 or who drools during sleep.
Treatment may be recommended when drooling is severe. Drooling may be
considered severe if saliva drips from your lip to your clothing or your
drooling interferes with your daily activities and creates social problems.
Excessive drooling can also lead to inhaling saliva into the lungs, which can
Treatment options are looked at on a case-by-case basis, but generally your
doctor will perform an assessment and come up with the management plan that
works best for you.
The noninvasive approach includes trying things such as medication and oral
motor therapy. In more serious cases, you and your doctor may consider a more
invasive approach, including treatment options such as surgery and radiotherapy.
Speech and occupational therapists teach positioning and posture control to
help improve lip closure and swallowing. Your therapist will work with you on
improving muscle tone and saliva control. Therapists may also suggest that you
see a dietitian to modify the amount of acidic
foods in your diet.
Appliance or dental
A special device placed in the mouth helps with lip closure during
swallowing. An oral prosthetic device such as a chin cup or dental appliances
may help with lip closure as well as tongue position and swallowing. This
option works best if you have some swallowing control.
Certain medications help reduce saliva production. These include:
(Transderm Scop), which comes as a patch and is placed on your skin to deliver
the medication slowly throughout the day. Each patch lasts for 72 hours.
(Robinul), which is given as an injection or in the form of a pill. This
medication decreases your saliva production but can cause dry mouth as a result.
sulfate, given as drops in the mouth. This is usually used for people during
end-of-life care when they are having difficulties with drooling.
Botox injections may help reduce symptoms of drooling by tightening facial
Several procedures are approved for the treatment of drooling. The most
common reroutes the salivary ducts to the back of the mouth to prevent drooling
outside of the mouth. Another procedure removes your salivary glands
What is the outlook
In children, drooling is a normal part of development. But if you notice
excessive drooling or have any other concerns, you should always consult your
There are many medical conditions that cause drooling, so you should consult
your doctor if you notice that you’re drooling excessively or uncontrollably.
Many problems can be easily controlled with therapy or medication, but some
conditions may require more serious treatment and highlight a more serious
Following a healthy diet and listening to your body can help to alleviate
some problems. For anything serious, your doctor can help you develop a