Drooling (or dribbling) is the unintentional loss of saliva from the mouth. Drooling beyond infancy may occur in some medical conditions such as when there is inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth or as a reaction to some medications, which can increase the amount of saliva produced.
In some conditions including motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, drooling is usually related to:
- Abnormalities in swallowing (rather than to absence of swallowing)
- Difficulties moving saliva to the back of the throat
- Poor mouth closure
- Jaw instability
- Tongue thrusting
Drooling is not usually caused by having too much saliva as you might think. Instead it has been found that there is a tendency to swallow less frequently than normal.
Drooling can be made worse by a lack of head control and poor posture, lack of sensation around the mouth, breathing through the mouth, excitement and impaired concentration.
There can be health and hygiene problems for people who drool most of the time and excessively. The skin around the mouth, chin and neck can become red and sore, and dehydration may occur because of fluid loss. There may also be problems with eating, infections may be more easily transmitted and choking is more likely, as are chest infections.