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Why Does My Toddler Drool Non-Stop?

Toddler Drool Non-Stop - Parents Canada

While drool is expected for infants (especially when they’re teething), drooling can continue into toddlerhood. This can cause some concern among parents who wonder why their their toddler is drooling so much – especially when it appears that they have many of their teeth. (Generally a child has all of their 20 “baby” teeth in the mouth by age two and a half to three.)

Drooling is actually a normal occurrence in children before the development of and control of their muscles around the mouth and lips. Part of that control means children can feel the wetness around the mouth and chin, swallow frequently to regulate the saliva buildup, close their lips and control salivary suction. This involves quite a bit of work. This developmental milestone usually happens around age two, but the delay is not considered a problem until after age four.

Saliva serves several purposes, including the following:

  • lubricating the mouth for chewing, swallowing and speech
  • washing away debris
  • preventing tooth decay by buffering acids in the mouth
  • aiding in digestion

Too much saliva, however, can cause persistent wetness of the mouth and chin leading to skin irritations and possible infections. It can also cause wetness and staining of clothing, requiring frequent apparel changes. Excessive drooling may also become a potential embarrassment as the child gets older.

Children who have neurologic impairments may show delays in controlling drooling. Excessive drooling in an otherwise typically developing child may be due to an abnormal oral sensitivity, with or without a delay in the muscle control. Less commonly, drooling in toddlers is due to excess production of saliva. Other causes may include oral infections, nasal obstructions and medications. The incidence of chronic excessive drooling is about 0.6 per cent.

To help deal with the excess drooling, you may need to keep absorbent bibs or wristbands on your child to help to control the wetness. Some young children are simply unaware of the drooling. If the drooling becomes worrisome to you, talk to your doctor. They might suggest a referral to a speech pathologist, dentist or ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist who can assess your child’s needs and help develop a plan.

Originally published in ParentsCanada, July 2012.

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