Drooling in infants is perfectly natural as they learn to feed while their teeth are coming in and their saliva production comes online. After the age of two, this early drooling should start to subside as your child learns the art of swallowing efficiently.
If you notice your child is still drooling, this may point to a larger issue, such as a swallowing disorder, affecting nearly 1% of children between ages 3 and 17 in the United States.
The team here at Celebrations Speech Group is well-versed in the many potential consequences of a swallowing disorder, and drooling is certainly included.
Here, we explore possible reasons for your child’s excessive saliva, focusing more on swallowing disorders because that is our area of expertise and one of the more common causes of drooling.
The many causes of drooling
Many potential causes of drooling in children involve different areas of their health. Some causes of drooling are indirect and include:
- Neurological damage, such as a traumatic brain injury
- Muscular and central nervous system disorders, such as cerebral palsy
- Intellectual disabilities
More direct causes of drooling include excess saliva production or swallowing disorders that affect how much liquid is in your child’s mouth and how well they can move it to where it needs to go.
Swallowing disorders and drooling
To understand how a swallowing disorder can lead to drooling, let’s take a closer look at the three different areas that might be involved in a swallowing disorder:
- Oral — there’s a problem in the mouth that affects how your child moves food and liquid
- Pharyngeal — an issue at the back of the mouth where food enters the esophagus
- Esophageal — food can get trapped or be regurgitated from the esophagus
Swallowing disorders that involve the oral and pharyngeal phases are more likely to lead to drooling as saliva isn’t moving to the back of the mouth and being swallowed down. As a result, the excess saliva in your child’s mouth needs somewhere to escape, which can lead to drooling.
Treating the swallowing disorder to remedy the drooling
If we confirm that a swallowing disorder is behind your child’s drooling, we can start therapy immediately. There are many different approaches to treating a swallowing disorder, and your participation will be paramount.
To give you an idea, here are some possible therapies and solutions:
- Changing your child’s head and neck position when they eat
- Eating foods that are softer and easier to swallow
- Changing the textures of the foods
- Strengthening certain muscles in the mouth (tongue, etc.)
- Learning how to coordinate breathing and eating
These are just a few examples of the many different ways in which we help children with swallowing disorders.
For a clearer idea about how to approach your child’s drooling, we suggest you begin with a consultation with us so that we can get you on the right treatment track.
To get started, please contact one of our offices in Brentwood, Stockton, or Elk Grove, California, to schedule an appointment.