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Why Does My Child Drool When He/She Sleeps?

Why Does My Child Drool When He/She Sleeps?

In 2020, we expect to assist over 1000 patients that are attempting to sleep better. If your child drools excessively when he or she sleeps, read the information below and then contact us.

Have you ever woken up from a long, relaxing sleep only to find a puddle of drool on your pillow? Don’t panic because you’re not alone! Many people, especially children, find themselves having to wash their pillowcases often due to excessive drooling throughout the night. Actually, drooling while sleeping is pretty common with very little risk factors to worry about.

Drooling is defined as the flow of saliva outside of the mouth. It can be caused by the excess production of saliva, the inability to retain saliva within the mouth, or problems swallowing excess saliva thus causing it to leak out.

Throughout the day, your body constantly produces saliva. This saliva is typically swallowed when you’re awake, but what happens when you’re asleep?

First, the body will naturally slow down the production of saliva. The saliva that isn’t swallowed then pools and builds up in the mouth. Because your facial muscles are relaxed while you are asleep, the saliva leaks out of the mouth depending on the sleeping position. If your child drools while he/she sleeps, there is probably little to no reason for concern other than an extra load of laundry now and then. However, if you notice that there’s an excess of drooling, try encouraging a different sleeping position. Generally, sleeping or laying directly on the back minimizes drool as the saliva can drain to the throat. Positions such as the fetal position (on your side) or on the stomach prohibits draining through the throat pushing the saliva to the mouth.

If your child changes his/her sleeping position and the problem persists, contact your primary doctor or dentist to discuss some of these medical conditions:

  • Teething
  • Allergies
  • Sinus Infections
  • Tonsillitis
  • Acid Reflux
  • Sleep/Night Terrors
  • Medication Side Effects
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Neurological Disorder/Developmental Delay

Most of these medical conditions hold no reason for concern; however, they should be investigated further if the drooling problem persists. Your doctor or dentist may recommend therapy or another form of treatment to assist with the reduction of drooling. Treatment does exist! Drooling should not interfere with your child’s sleep schedule, and, as a concerned parent, you should rest easy knowing that your child is benefitting from a full, healthy sleep. And, don’t forget to wash those pillows!

Ways to Treat and Prevent Drooling

There are certain things you may be able to do to help your child treat and prevent drooling. We recommend these drooling prevention tips.

Change Sleeping Positions

If your child tends to drool while they’re sleeping, encourage them to switch sleeping positions. They may find that sleeping on their back resolves the issues as gravity will prevent saliva from coming out of their mouth.

Treat Allergies and Sinus Problems

Take your child to an allergy doctor or orthodontist if you believe they are facing allergies and sinus problems. Many allergies lead to symptoms like increased saliva production and can be taken care of through medications, allergy shots, lifestyle changes, and other common allergy treatments.

Take Medication

If your child has a neurological condition, a doctor may be able to prescribe medication to eliminate it. It often comes in a patch form and is placed behind your child’s ear.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy may be an option if your child’s drooling is the result of jaw instability and tongue weakness. While this treatment may take some time, it can improve the way your child swallows while decreasing their drooling.

Oral Appliances

There are special oral appliances that are designed to aid with swallowing. They can help position the tongue and close the lips, enabling your child to swallow better so they are less likely to drool.


While surgery is the last resort to prevent drooling, it may be necessary, especially if an underlying condition is the cause of your child’s drooling.

As you can see, there are many treatment options available to help your child resolve their drooling issue and any discomfort and embarrassment it may be causing. Since drooling can be a sign of or lead to complications, it’s important to resolve it as soon as possible.

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