Have you been changing your baby’s clothes or bibs several times just to keep them dry? As early as three months of age, babies tend to have saliva flowing outside the mouth. This unintentional salivation is known as drooling. It is a normal part of the physical developments occurring in the infant. Some babies drool for a little bit, while others tend to drool constantly.
What Are the Benefits of Salivation in Babies?
For newborn, a lot of saliva is normal because it provides a number of benefits for babies. It washes the bacteria and food particles, preventing the occurrence of tooth decay. Digestion is enhanced because saliva helps in breaking down the carbohydrates present in the foods. Saliva also contains growth factors that aid in the maturity of the intestines. Lastly, it neutralizes stomach acid, preventing the occurrence of infant reflux and protecting the lining from irritation.
Why Do Babies Salivate or Drool?
Drooling occurs when the large salivary glands are known as the parotid glands mature. Babies are becoming more active. They are starting to develop their ability to chew food substances. Their muscle control is also enhanced, allowing their hands to be put into their mouth. These activities both stimulate the production of saliva, but babies still doesn’t have the knowledge in swallowing. Thus, this leads to the trickling of saliva out of their mouth.
For newborn, a lot of saliva becomes more noticeable when they are going through the teething process. This is normal as the increase in saliva production helps relieve the pain caused by teething. Diet also affects the production of saliva in babies. The high acid diet often leads to excessive production of saliva. Thus, the diet plans should be monitored accordingly.
Is Excessive Salivating or Drooling Dangerous or Not?
Drooling is a normal behavior experienced by most babies in their first two years of life. However, the excessive drooling or saliva production may signal other health conditions and problems.
There are some neurological conditions that put babies at risk for drooling. This is usually associated with the control of the facial muscles. The decrease in the control of the facial muscles will eventually lead to higher chance of suffering from drooling. Other conditions may also cause the weakness in the muscles. This may then affect the ability to perform several bodily movements such as closing the mouth and swallowing saliva. Some of the neurologic disorders that are related to drooling include:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
The increase in saliva production may also be a sign of acid reflux and other digestive problems. The difficulty and impair in swallowing may also be a sign of allergies, tumors, and infections in the neck, throat, tonsils, and sinusitis.
How to Deal with Too Much Salivation or Drooling
Drooling may lead to complications and other health problems. For newborn, a lot of saliva may become excessive, and then immediate care and attention should be given. This should be properly managed to allow relief and prevent irritations. The saliva leaking out can lead to skin irritation and bumpy red rashes, particularly on the chin, neck, and chest area. Rashes due to drooling should be treated. Washing of the affected area or inflamed skin should be done prior to soothing with lanolin ointment. Further skin irritations can be prevented by using emollient ointments. This will also help in the process of healing. The excessive saliva can also lead to watery stools and diarrhea, which will ultimately lead to diaper rashes due to frequent wetting and changing of undergarments in babies.
Severe drooling needs deeper medical treatment. The severity is characterized by excessive dripping, causing interfere with the daily activities and at times creating social problems. This condition may even lead to inhalation of saliva into the lungs, leading to pneumonia. Better assessment should be done by medical doctors to properly manage the condition and give appropriate treatments. Some of the approaches used to treat serious cases of drooling include:
There are some medications that can help reduce the production of saliva. These should be used accordingly and as prescribed by physicians.
Scopolamine – This comes as a patch placed on the skin. It slowly delivers the medication and relief throughout the day. A patch usually lasts for about 72 hours.
Glycopyrrolate – This can come in the form of a pill or as an injection. It helps decrease the production of saliva, causing dryness in the mouth.
Atropine sulfate – This is given as drops in the mouth. It is commonly used for end-of-life care patients to lessen the difficulty caused by drooling.
Oral motor therapy
Therapy, both speech and occupational, helps improve control. This teaches proper positioning and correct posture for an improved lip closure and swallowing. A change in the diet may also be necessary. Dieticians may help and modify the foods in the diet for a lesser amount of acids.
Appliance or Dental device
The use of a special dental device can help in the lip closure especially during swallowing. This device will also help in tongue positioning for better control and management.
Severe cases of drooling need surgical procedures for better treatment. This includes a procedure that will reroute the salivary ducts to the back area of the mouth. Another procedure will completely remove the salivary glands. These procedures will prevent drooling outside the mouth.
The Bottom Line
For babies and newborn, a lot of saliva may be a normal part of a child’s development. However, too much drooling and uncontrollable salivation may be a sign of other medical concerns. When this occurs, consult a medical doctor is highly recommended to determine the underlying conditions. Medications are available to properly manage the drooling problems. Treatment plans can also be adjusted to ensure better results. Remember that being safe is always better than being sorry, so be responsible at all times!