Drool – What Is It And How Can We Prevent It?

Sleeping soundly but waking up wet? Saliva on your face and stains on the pillows? Why do you drool while you sleep?  There is nothing wrong with saliva [1]. It serves several significant roles in our bodies: aiding in digestion, disinfecting our mouths and helping us speak by lubricating the mouth and tongue.

So, why exactly do we drool when we sleep?

The myriad of reasons run the gamut from simple to serious.

Reason We Drool #8 – Age

Drool On Babies

Babies drool. They can not yet control their facial muscles, so saliva escapes their mouths by day and by night. Expect some wet gurgles until they are around two years old.

Then, they will start to teethe. Aside from temper tantrums, expect another round of drool.

Reason We Drool #7 – Sleeping Positions

Drooling Sleeping Positions

If you sleep on your side, you are more likely to wake up with wet patches. Human adults produce about two to four pints of saliva in a day. Sleeping in the fetal position causes saliva to gather on the side of the mouth and leak out.

Sleeping on your back allows for the natural digestion of saliva. Swallowing the spit while sleeping prevents it from ending up on the pillow.

Reason We Drool #6 – Stress

Drool Caused By Stress

Here is one side effect you may not know: stress causes excessive salivation. Unfortunately, that means malodorous drool all over your face and pillow.

Moreover, stress degrades your sleep quality which may make you drool even more.

Reason We Drool #5 – Acidity

Drool Acidity

Acid reflux and its more chronic cousin, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), can cause excessive salivation.

Gastric acid [2], a common denominator of both, stimulates the esophagus which then excites the salivary glands. In their excitement, they will produce more saliva than you can swallow.

When you sleep, this excess saliva becomes drool.

Reason We Drool #4 – Allergies and Sinuses

Drool Caused By Allergies And Sinuses

Allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, some food allergies, the flu and even the common cold can cause drooling. These conditions block your nasal passages.

When that happens, breathing ensues through our mouths. While we are sleeping, drool can leak out.

Reason We Drool #3 – Throat Troubles

Drool And Drooling

Tonsillitis and other forms of throat irritation may cause drooling.

When your tonsils are inflamed or the inside of your throat narrows due to infection, saliva will take the path of least resistance. Swallowing may be painful, so your body will expel saliva by relaxing those irritated muscles and allowing it out of the mouth, down the face and onto the pillow.

Reason We Drool #2 – Medications

Neurological Causes Drooling

Some medications such as morphine, certain antidepressants and pilocarpine may cause excessive production of saliva.

In these cases, drooling may become part of the nightly routine [3].

Reason We Drool #1 – Neurological Causes

Drooling Treatment Options

More severe causes of drooling include neurological disorders.

Strokes, tumors, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease all cause excessive drooling.

In older children, the reason may be a developmental disorder. In these matters, it is best to consult your physician immediately.

Tomorrow Sleeptracker Monitor

6 Ways To Help Reducing Drool

When drooling starts intruding in everyday activities, it is time to take action. There are several non-invasive ways to treat drooling.

Dysfunction in our swallowing system [4] may cause drooling, but that dysfunction can usually be corrected and addressed.

Reduce Drooling Tip #1 –  Make a Change

Drooling Causes

Change your sleeping position.  Learn to sleep on your back, so saliva will not pool in the front of your mouth.

You will not drown in your own spit when you sleep. Our body’s auto reflex will prevent that. It is the same reflex that controls breathing or smacks an errant, biting mosquito while you sleep.

Reduce Drooling Tip #2 – Seek Therapy

Seek Therapy For Drool

Occupational and speech therapy can help improve [5] muscular control. Therapists can teach techniques on how to properly close the lips and swallow, strengthening the muscles through repetition.

Reduce Drooling Tip #3 – Drool Devices

Drooling Devices

Dental appliances, chin cups, and other oral devices may be used to help with mouth closure and swallowing.

Reduce Drooling Tip #4 – Injections

Drool Injections

From patches to injections, drugs can help deal with the drool.

Botox and glycopyrrolate injections, scopolamine patches and prescription mouth drops will help treat excessive drooling. For all of these treatments, consult your physician.

Reduce Drooling Tip #5 – Tongue Acupuncture

Tongue Acupuncture

Believe it or not, tongue acupuncture is used to treat excessive drooling.

However, finding skilled acupuncturists may be a challenge.

Reduce Drooling Tip #6 – Last-Resort Surgery

Drool And Drooling

Surgery can reroute your salivary glands or completely remove them.

For severe medical conditions, drooling is accompanied by other significant symptoms.

If your only concern is occasional drooling, then the solution may be simple. If not, contact your medical professional.

Tomorrow Sleep Mattress

Drooling Resources;

[1]   British Journal of Medical Practitioners, Management of Drooling of saliva, Ganesh Bavikatte, Poh Lin Sit, Ali Hassoon, March 2012.
[2]   UChicago Medicine; Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
[3]   B. Doctor Your Daily Medicine For Life; Drool While You Sleep? 6 Things May Be Causing It.
[4]   Oral Surgery Oral Medicine Oral Pathology Oral Radiology; Drooling of saliva: A review of the etiology and management options, Jean-Paul Meningaud, MD PhD FEBOMS, Poramate Pitak-Arnnop DDS OMS, Luc Chikhani MD, Jacques-Charles Bertrand  MD, January 2006.
[5]   Paralyzed Veterans of America; Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
[6]   US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; BOTOX-A injection of salivary glands for drooling., Alvarenga, Campos, Dias, Melão, Estevão-Costa, August 2017.

Drool - Here's Exactly Why You Drool And How To Prevent It
Article Name
Drool – Here's Exactly Why You Drool And How To Prevent It
[RESOURCE GUIDE] Q: What causes drool? A: It serves several significant roles in our bodies: aiding in digestion, disinfecting our mouths and helping us speak by lubricating the mouth and tongue.
Publisher Name
Tomorrow Sleep
Publisher Logo