Chronic Drooling In Children

Chronic (excessive) drooling in children and adolescents

Drooling (also known as ‘dribbling’) is common in babies and young children up to the age of eighteen months as they learn to control their mouth and throat. However, most children have stopped drooling by the time they reach four years old. In children and adolescents with cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions drooling often continues. Doctors sometimes call it ‘sialorrhoea’, which means ‘overflowing saliva’. In most cases, excessive drooling in children is due to problems with swallowing, but other causes include lack of control of the lips or tongue.

Around 1 in 5 children and adolescents with cerebral palsy have chronic drooling – this is frequent problematic drooling that affects their health and/or well-being. Chronic drooling can lead to irritated skin around the mouth, neck and chest, dehydration, urine infections and chest infections. Clothes and bibs need to be changed regularly, books and electronic equipment can be damaged, and there may be an unpleasant smell. Older children and young people with chronic excessive drooling may feel embarrassed – chronic drooling can affect their relationships with others and their self-esteem.

Children and adolescents who need help to manage chronic drooling are often offered speech and language therapy. Drooling may be reduced by improving mouth control and teaching sensory awareness to increase swallowing. Where needed, drug treatments for chronic drooling are available. In some cases, injections into salivary glands (where saliva is produced) or surgery may be considered.

Information on drooling booklet


Information on drooling in children with neurodisabilities.

This booklet was designed with the Bobath Centre, please click on link to find out more about this organization.

Use the links below to open the book in a separate window and tap the page corner to flip the page.

Flag of IrelandInformation on drooling in children with neurodisabilities (Ireland)

Flag of the United KingdomInformation on drooling in children with neurodisabilities (UK)

Paper copies are available from Proveca. Please request them via the contact page on this website.


Reviewed June 2023