What Causes Drooling? Find The Reason Behind Excessive Saliva

Ranjeet KumarReviewed by Mr. Ranjeet Kumar Sr. Audiologist, Speech Therapist & Cochlear Implant Specialist, BASLP on May 4th, 2020 written by Editorial Team

Drooling, or slobbering is the flow of saliva outside the mouth. Drooling can be caused by excess production of saliva, inability to retain saliva within the mouth (incontinence of saliva), or problems with swallowing (dysphagia).

It is a common phenomenon of childhood. Everybody drools in their childhood. It’s very common in children who have a developmental disorder.

If you need any assistance or have a question about Drooling, you can consult our HearingSol experts with your problem, feel free to call us on +91-9327901950. We are always here to help you.

It happens to those who don’t have control over their swallowing and mouth muscles. Children with autism have delays and difficulties in muscle control and sensitivity.

Autism and Drooling

Autism and drooling are connected to each other in some cases. Typically, what happens with the growing infants. They start gaining control of their swallowing and mouth muscles between the 18 and 24 months of age.

Autistic children face this problem of muscle control and drool excessively. This is how autism and drooling are linked to each other.

So, we can say that drooling beyond infancy is the result of Autism. If your child is drooling excessively after the infancy period, it is an alarming state.

Well, Drooling is not completely dependant on autism. Let’s study the different aspects of drooling in detail.

What Causes Drooling?

Drooling generally occurs due to the low muscle tone and lack of sensitivity, which are characteristics of an autistic child. It happens around the lips and face.

It leads to excessive production of saliva in the mouth and can embarrass you after infancy. A variety of neurological and attention deficits can contribute to these issues as is often the case among children and sometimes adults who have autism.

what causes drooling while sleepingMost Common Causes

  • Teething in babies.
  • Dental problems in youngers.
  • Dental appliances may not be fitted properly.
  • Injury to the inside of your mouth.
  • Infection in your mouth.
  • Inflammation of your salivary glands.
  • Side effects of some medications.
  • Open mouth posture from CNS depressants or sleeping on one side can cause drooling.
  • Diets having acidic content in large amounts cause excessive saliva production.

Less Common Causes

Rare Drooling Causes

What will happen if the child is drooling excessively in the classroom? Well, you cant ignore this situation and this calls for medical care and treatment.

Symptoms of Drooling

Here are some listed drooling symptoms which will help to diagnose it easily:

  • Chapped lips
  • Damage of the tissues of skin around the mouth
  • Infection of the skin around the mouth
  • Problem in breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Speech disturbance
  • Pneumonia
  • If the cloth is dipped with saliva due to excess salivation.

Drooling may also impact on the ability to speak or eat. It will cause psychological complications also.

When To Seek Medical Care?

Drooling in babies is usual and common. But it is concerning if it occurs in infants and toddlers too. If your loved one faces drooling then instantly seek medical care.

Here are some conditions for that you have to seek medical care:

  • When drooling doesn’t occur because of teething.
  • Drooling occurs suddenly.
  • If you are unable to determine the cause of drooling.
  • When a child suffers from fever and has some difficulty in breathing.
  • Drooling may become worse and also causes excessive saliva because of tongue, lips, or difficulty breathing.

Avoiding drooling can lead to being major complications. So it is necessary to treat it as soon as possible.

Diagnosis of Drooling

The diagnosis of drooling recommends the best treatment option for a person. It is important because sometimes drooling may lead to a severe loss.

Diagnosis of drooling

What does your doctor check?

  • Mouth, teeth, and surrounding skin
  • Tongue control, swallowing ability, and jaw stability
  • Tonsils and nasal airways
  • Alertness and emotional state
  • Hydration, hunger, and head posture

Criteria to find the best treatment

  • Any medical condition or medication is taking
  • Why drooling occurs
  • Amount of saliva produced
  • Any effect on daily life

Factors that should be considered during treatment

  • Severity and complications
  • Age and mental status
  • Drooling is temporary or permanent
  • Any neurological conditions
  • Possibility of improvement

If the child is immediately sent to the specialist drooling can be checked, treated, and stopped. Instead of neglecting the situation, action should be taken.

As the treatment and therapy depend on the underlying cause of drooling, there is a necessity of diagnosis. Afterward, treatment is followed by diagnosis.

How Drooling Can Be Treat?

Generally, babies drool till 24 months so they do not need treatment. Treatment needed for youngsters and adults. Drooling has become severe if saliva flows from your mouth to your clothes and it obstructs your daily routine activities.

Excessive saliva can lead to pneumonia because people inhale saliva into the lungs. Drooling treatment options may vary to the severity of cases. In more severe cases a doctor may perform surgery and radiotherapy.

Drooling can be treated and controlled in the following ways:

  • Speech Therapy
  • Therapies related to lip movements and swallowing
  • Dental Device
  • Medications
  • Botox Surgery
  • Surgery or radiotherapy
  • Home remedies
  • Change Sleeping Positions
  • Treating allergies and sinus problems

Treatment options for excessive saliva (for youngsters and adults)

Drooling treatment

Therapies To Control Drooling

The therapist helps you to improve lip closure and swallowing. They teach you to control your position and posture of mouth. The therapist will improve your muscle tone and saliva control. They will also give you suggestions about acidic foods in your diet.

Following are the goals of therapy which are as follows :

1. Develop good posture and positioning

Sometimes, downward head tilting occurs due to the poor muscle control of the trunk, neck, and head. Saliva tends to pool at the front of the mouth and spill from parted lips at this time. Therapists can help to align your child in order to encourage proper trunk control and head support.

2. Build oral muscle strength and control

Therapists use a lot of oral-motor exercises so that children can build muscle tone around their mouths. For instance, the therapist may help your son to practice some activities like closing his lips around a straw, spoon, and practice pronouncing closed-lip speech sounds such as “p,” “b” and “m.” They will guide you on how to continue such exercises at home. And that too with lots of praise and small rewards.

3. Increase oral sensitivity

Therapists suggest different tactile exercises to help your child to develop sensitivity in the lips, tongue, mouth, and chin. There are many playful oral-sensitivity exercises such as blowing bubbles, making exaggerated sounds involving the lips such as “oooh,” “eeee”.

4. Practice wiping with a napkin or handkerchief

When your child learns for being aware of wetness on his face. Then, it’s important to encourage the use of wiping with either napkin or handkerchief. You can help him by attaching the napkin to his wristband during meals to encourage this habit.

5. Appliance or Dental Device

It’s a special device that helps to close your lips during swallowing. Chin cup devices may help to close your lips and also tongue position and swallowing.

6. Medications

By using some medicines, excessive production of saliva can reduce. The doctor suggests some medicine to prevent saliva from the mouth and also treat neurological conditions.  These medicines are:

  • Scopolamine (Transderm Scop): It comes in a patch that is kept on your skin for 24 hours.
  • Glycopyrrolate (Robinul): It comes as an injection and also in the form of pills. It reduces too much saliva production in your mouth.
  • Atropine sulfate: It is given as a drop to people who have difficulties with drooling.

7. Botox injections

This injection helps in tightening the facial muscle and reduce the saliva in the mouth. Botox injection paralyzes the salivary gland and prevents the production of the saliva. The effect of injection lasts for 6 months and can be repeated after six months.

8. Surgical Treatment

In some procedures, saliva routes have been changed to the back of the mouth and in another procedure, a doctor removes your salivary glands. Surgery is the last option to reduce drooling. Surgery is suggested only for severe conditions such as neurological conditions and nerve damage.

9. Home Remedies

Drinking a lot of water, tooth brushing, and mouthwash can reduce saliva production. There should be less intake of acidic food.

10. Attend Speech Therapy

Speech therapy may improve the jaw movement, tongue strength and mobility, and also speech delay. This therapy improves your muscle tone and saliva control.

11. Change Sleeping Positions

Generally, people drooling while sleeping. They have to change their positions while sleeping. And they also sleep at the backside of their body which will not flow saliva out of the mouth due to gravity.

12. Treat Allergies and Sinus Problems

People who have allergies and sinus problems may increase the production of saliva in your mouth. In sinus, the nose has been blocked and a person has to breathe from the mouth which causes saliva secretion from the mouth.

So take some medicine to treat your allergy and sinus to prevent saliva escape from the mouth.


Drooling is normal in babies’ development but if you see excessive drooling in your child then consult a doctor and take some advice. In adults, drooling occurs due to some medical issues.

So if you seem to drool in your loved ones then visit your nearest doctor. Most of the issues can be resolved by some medications and therapies. But severe conditions due to severe damage needs surgery to resolve the problems.

If you need any assistance or have a question about Drooling, you can consult our HearingSol experts with your problem, feel free to call us on +91-9327901950. We are always here to help you.

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