Do you drool when you sleep? If yes, then it's necessary to find out the cause of it and get it fixed accordingly.  Though drooling while sleeping is relatively common, sometimes it can be a sign of an underlying illness. Even if it's not adversely affecting you, it's not a condition to completely ignore.

What Causes Drooling?

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Hypersalivation, medically known as sialorrhea or ptyalism, can be caused by excessive production of saliva, difficulty swallowing, or the inability to retain saliva within the mouth. Hypersalivation can cause drooling, which is unintentional dribbling of saliva from the mouth.

Drooling occurs in healthy babies until approximately six months of age because that is when their swallowing reflex and lip closure properly develop. Researchers have proven that drooling can occur in children up to the age of 2 (and in some cases, up to the age of 4), but beyond that, it’s not normal.

The other factors that contribute to drooling include teething syndrome, digestive issues like gastrointestinal (GI) infections and acid reflux, throat and oral infections, neuromuscular and psychological disorders, as well as sleeping disorders in conjunction with psychological disorders. Therefore, if you or any of your known is troubled with drooling issue then make sure to seek medical help to avoid unnecessary medical complications.

How Do You Prevent Drooling?

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Treating hypersalivation will effectively control drooling. For relief, follow the below methods:

1. Speech Therapy

Depending on the severity of drooling, speech pathologists and occupational therapists may recommend speech therapy. The goal is to improve jaw stability, lip closure, tongue strength, and mobility. A head-back wheelchair device is used to correct the patient's body posture and swallowing abilities that eventually reduce drooling. Speech therapy may take a long time, but the techniques improve swallowing and decrease drooling.

2. Biofeedback Interventions and Automatic Cueing Techniques

Biofeedback and automatic cueing techniques have been proven to help patients with mild to moderate drooling and neurologic dysfunctions. Research has shown that these techniques were successful in patients older than eight years with mild drooling issues. The technique involves tracking the patient's behavior of swallowing and wiping of drool with the help of a cue or an electronic device that beeps at regular intervals for each action.

3. Oral Treatment

Dentists and orthodontists can be consulted for dental or oral diseases and malocclusion to alleviate drooling. A device called an oral appliance is placed in the mouth to improve swallowing habits, lip closure, and tongue positioning.

4. Acupuncture

A study in 2001 showed that acupuncture is an excellent treatment for excessive drooling. During the study over a six-week period, children with drooling issues were treated successfully by placing needles in 5 different locations on the tongue. Further studies indicate the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of drooling.

5. Gastroesophageal Reflux Control

Patients with developmental delays or neurologically-compromised patients can suffer from gastroesophageal reflux along with excessive drooling. Researchers have suggested that controlling the reflux will help control drooling.

6. Treating Allergies and Sinus Problems

Sinus problems and allergies also contribute to sialorrhea and nasal congestion. In such conditions, inhalation is through the mouth rather than the nose, leading to saliva flow through the mouth. You can ask an online Otolaryngologist to identify whether your drooling is associated with ENT problems or aerodigestive obstruction like adenotonsillar hypertrophy and macroglossia and get treatment accordingly.

7. Botox Therapy

A study from 2012 showed that Botox therapy is an effective treatment for drooling or hypersalivation. Botulinum toxin type A injection administered into the salivary glands (parotid and submandibular glands) reduce salivary flow without any major complications. However, it is necessary to repeat injections for optimal results.

8. Medication and Surgical Intervention

In case of severe drooling, medication helps reduce salivation. Usually, anticholinergic medications such as Scopolamine or Glycopyrrolate are prescribed to reduce drooling. However, surgical methods such as the removal of salivary glands or salivary duct rerouting and ligation are advised in worst case scenarios to treat excessive drooling.

Besides medication and surgery, radiation therapy to the salivary glands is also considered a good treatment option in elderly patients who cannot tolerate surgeries and medical therapies.

Home Remedies for Drooling

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Some home remedies can be tried before opting for medication or surgery:

  • Change sleeping positions: Sleeping on the back can fix the problem as gravity pulls the palate, tonsils, and tongue backward and avoids saliva from seeping out. A wedge pillow can also be used while sleeping.
  • Sesame oil:  After brushing the teeth and cleaning the tongue, take approximately 30 ml sesame oil and keep it in the mouth for 20 minutes, then spit it out.
  • Drink plenty of water to reduce excessive saliva production: Teeth-brushing and rinsing with a mouthwash can dry out the mouth temporarily. A good night's sleep along with regular exercise, yoga, and a healthy diet will reduce drooling.
  • Sucking in cinnamon stick or a clove is a great home remedy for reducing excess saliva in the mouth.

Keeping the above facts in mind can help reduce the social stigma of drooling and educate individuals about the hidden health dangers associated with it.

For more information about excessive drooling during sleep, ask one of our online Otolaryngologists today.

About the Author

Sujatha D

Sujatha has a master's degree in biotechnology. She started her career as a technical editor and is now into content editing and writing. She is a blogger and also writes articles covering all kinds of health topics.

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