Is Drooling Normal?
Drooling medically known as sialorrhea or ptyalism is the involuntary outpour of saliva from the mouth involuntarily. It can happen when the muscles around the mouth are weak or underdeveloped when one has difficulty swallowing. Drooling is normal for infants, however, can be an indicator of a problem for children and adults. Usually, drooling stops when infants reach the age of around 15–18 months. Allergies and some neurological conditions are also common reasons people droll. So what are the potential causes of drooling and the treatments available to manage the condition? Let`s get talking.
5 Causes of Drooling
There are neurological conditions that may cause drooling. Usually, conditions that make the muscles in the face weak, as well as impact a person`s ability to close their mouths and swallow are responsible for this. Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke, and cerebral palsy are common causes of drooling.
There are some other health conditions that are not necessarily neurological, but could make people drool; they are infections, such as strep throat, tonsillitis, or sinusitis. Pregnancy, sleep apnea, acid reflux, and anatomical irregularities in the head and neck are other conditions that may cause drooling.
Infants are likely to drool because they don`t have full control of their mouth muscles until they are a little older. It is also common to find infants drooling when they`re teething.
People who experience seasonal allergies, alongside itchy eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing may also encounter excess saliva production and may result in drooling.
There are medications that can make people produce more saliva than usual. Some of these medications are those used in treating myasthenia gravis, psychiatric conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Acidic foods like alcohol and some fruits boost saliva production and make people prone to drooling.
How to Treat Drooling
For infants, drooling requires no treatment. However, for adults, there may be a need for treatment, especially if it is not the side effect of a medication, and if it is severe, thereby interrupting daily activities or causing embarrassment. Some people who drool develop respiratory infections if they inhale excess saliva. Excess drooling can also cause skin irritation, such as drool rash, particularly if sufferers often wipe the saliva from around their mouths. Common ways to manage excess saliva production are sucking on chewing gum, hard candies, or wearing a wristband to discreetly wipe saliva off the mouth.
Here are six treatment options for people who drool excessively:
Change Sleeping Positions
Some sleeping positions may make you drool, and this is why people usually drool while sleeping. If a person is drooling while asleep, you may switch their position to sleeping on the back; that way gravity will prevent saliva from seeping out of their mouth. You may use a wedge pillow to position yourself in one position all night so you don`t switch to a drool-causing position.
Dental and Oral Devices
There are oral devices that help people manage drooling by ensuring the proper positioning of the lips, jaw, and tongue, however, some people find them discomforting. People who have seizure disorders or trouble breathing are advised not to use these devices.
Injecting Botox into parotid glands via the cheek of people who drool may reduce saliva production. The good thing about this treatment is that it has minimal side effects, however, not all sufferers find it effective.
Swallowing therapy is one of the common treatment options for drooling. It entails taking sufferers through exercises to strengthen their mouth and throat muscles, as well as eating and drinking techniques that can help limit drooling. Speech therapy can also help with tongue movement, as well as improve lip position and closure during swallowing.
Your doctor is in the best position to recommend if your drooling is excessive enough to require surgery. People with severe drooling cases are usually at risk of respiratory infections and are advised to undergo surgery.
People who drool as a result of allergies may take allergy medication to limit excessive saliva production. There are also saliva-controlling medications that people with neurological conditions can take. Anticholinergic drugs, for instance, can help control saliva production. Note, however, that these drugs have some side effects such as dry mouth, vomiting, vision issues, constipation, drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches.
Saliva Development in Infants
Here`s a breakdown of saliva development across ages of infancy.
Infants start producing higher amounts of saliva after three months. When they lie flat, face up or recline, gravity makes the saliva flow as they swallow. At this age, they may drool if they lift their heads or turn, going against gravity.
After six months, infants control their saliva lying face down, on their backs, and in supported sitting positions. They may drool when they teethe, eat, use their hands to reach for objects, or try concentrating with fine use of their fingers and hands.
At this stage, children have a better control of drooling. So larger movements like rolling, sitting, or belly-crawling would usually not make them drool anymore. They may only drool when cutting a tooth or eating certain foods.
After 15 months, drooling would usually not happen when Children may only drool at this stage when they are teething or concentrating on advanced fine finger movements like random-play, undressing, or self-feeding.
After two years, children must have developed the structure and control of their muscles and nerves to manipulate small objects, form two-word speech, and engage in fine finger movements without drooling.
Some Interesting Saliva Facts
- Mature salivary glands usually produce about 600mls saliva per day.
- The glands produce unstimulated or resting saliva at a rate of 0.3-0.5ml per minute, and stimulated saliva at 1.0-3 ml per minute.
- People usually produce about 1.5 liters of saliva daily.
- Drooling may occur normally when a child is acquiring a new motor skill, and may not stop until the child masters the skill.
- Drooling may occur before, during, and after the time a child cuts a new tooth.
- Because saliva production is related to the digestion of food, infants produce only a small amount of saliva before they are three months because their only diet is breast or cow milk.
- The minute saliva that infants have before they are three months old is required for keeping the mouth moist and clean.
- As a child grows, their glands enlarge and produce more saliva because their food texture changes from liquids to semi-solids and their chewing skill develops.
- The three pairs of major salivary glands are the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands.
- Some people have hundreds of minor salivary glands.
- Health conditions and medications that weaken the muscles, cause excess saliva production or cause difficulty swallowing are likely to cause drooling.
Now that you Know…
As you have read, drooling is a common symptom of some medical and neurological conditions. For some, it`s a minor problem, and for others, it can be severe. It can be detrimental to the self-esteem of sufferers, hence the need for an effective treatment option. You may try some of the simple treatment options you can try at home, however, if the drooling is excessive, please seek medical attention immediately.