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Why Is My Child Drooling?

drooling 

As parents, we are used to our babies mouthing and drooling! Drooling is a sign of teething, so it is very common for babies to have excessive saliva in and around their mouths from infancy up until 2 ½ years old. When teething stops, at around 2 1/2 years, drooling becomes less evident. This is because children develop more muscle control, coordination and awareness as they grow. Drooling should not persist past 4 years of age and if it does, there may be one or several factors operating behind the scenes.

Extra saliva in the mouth has been known to cause speech delays, skin breakdown, sleeping issues, swallowing difficulty and social impact. Here are 7 reasons why your child may still be drooling,

 

  1. Low Tone in Oral Mechanism: Children develop at different rates, and sometimes the muscles in the neck and face have not developed in time with the child. Low tone can certainly affect posture, which has a direct impact on control of saliva. If a child has low tone in their mouth or neck muscles, they could potentially have issues managing saliva in their mouth and swallowing it. They may also have a tendency to choke on their own saliva, liquids and solids, which should be addressed by a speech-language pathologist.
  2. Reduced Sensation or Awareness: Simply put, your child may need to be reminded to close their mouth! If this remains a persistent issue with a child, he or she may have reduced sensation around their mouth and not be aware! This is where the speech pathologist can help the child to improve his/her awareness using various techniques (e.g. mirror, sour tastes, wiping).
  3. Not Swallowing Frequently Enough: The act of swallowing does not necessarily come naturally for some children. Speech pathologists work with children to teach them not only how to swallow correctly, but when to swallow. In addition they can help the child build awareness for closed lips and feeling if their chin is “wet” or “dry”. If a small child is busy playing they may not always remember to swallow, causing saliva build up.
  4. Enlarged tonsils/adenoids: Has your child had repeated strep virus, noisy breathing when sleeping or choking/gagging episodes? Excess drooling can be a sign of enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Often children with these issues will keep their mouth in an open position much of the time to free up their airway. An ENT can take a look at these structures and determine if there is a negative impact on ease of breathing. Once the breathings issue(s) are addressed, speech therapy can begin.
  5. Underlying Allergies/Nasal Blockage: In a similar vein to #4 - excess saliva can be a sign of allergies or nasal blockage. If a child cannot use their nasal passages to breathe with ease, they will assume an open mouth position, causing excess saliva to form. This can lead to mouth and skin rashes, speech issues, frontal tongue placement as well as sleeping problems.
  6. Undetected Tongue Tie: If a child has an undetected tongue tie, it may make it difficult for them to properly swallow their saliva. This tongue tie may not have been seen at birth, but as a child ages, it can cause a restriction in movement, leading to difficulty with managing saliva and concurrent speech issues. Tongue ties are not always obvious and a preferred provider in tongue tie can rule assist the speech pathologist in ruling out a restriction.
  7. Narrow/High Palate: Your child may have either a narrow palate and/or high palate, which can certainly cause the tongue to shift forward, since there is no place for it to rest. When the tongue doesn’t have a landing place within the palate, the tongue has a more work to do to move back in order to swallow. Speech-pathologists have background training in identifying these types of palates and regularly refer to pediatric dentists and orthodontists.


Did you realize that there could be so many possible underlying reasons why your child is drooling? If you notice that your child is having difficulty managing their saliva, give us a call today and we’d be happy to work with you on figuring out why it’s happening. If you have any questions or confusion feel free to reach out and ask me any questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

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