Drooling - Getting to the Root of the Problem

Posted by Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP on 23rd Aug 2015

Question:  I was looking at some of the tools and videos on your site.  I have a 9 year old daughter with low tone in her face and some periodic drooling.  I have taken her to various speech therapists in the area for help with this issue and most say to remind her to swallow.  Now she is 9 and still has this issue - reminding her does not seem to help.  The dentist said maybe strengthening her chewing and jaw muscles might help.  I think there might also be an issue with closing her lips from what I can see from the videos on your site.  I do not think most of the time she is aware that she is drooling as well.  Would the Z-Vibe, etc. help?  Any suggestions for her I would appreciate.  


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If reminding her to swallow hasn’t working by now to stop the drooling, then it’s not going to work, most likely because that’s not the root of the problem.

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Drooling - Getting to the Root of the Problem

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Drooling can be caused by a few different things.  You mentioned that you don’t think she is aware that she's drooling - this could very well be true.  Sometimes children have limited to no awareness in their mouths, which means they can’t feel the saliva.  And if they can’t feel it, they won't know to swallow it.  There are a few strategies you can try to "wake up" the mouth so to speak (including using the  Z-Vibe).  For more information on these strategies, click here

It could also be an oral motor problem.  As your dentist suggested, she may not have the jaw strength necessary to hold her jaw in a closed position.  In that case, the Grabber is a chew tool that we make to help build jaw strength (start with the softer purple one and progress to the firmer green one).  Or you can use the Y-Chew instead (start with either the yellow or blue one, and progress to the orange or turquoise one).  For jaw strengthening exercises, click here.

As you suspected, poor lip closure could be another possible component.  For ideas on how to improve lip closure as well as other oral motor skills:

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Assisting Lip Closure with the Y-Chew

Oral Motor Exercises with the Z-Vibe

Oral Motor Exercises

Edible Oral Motor Exercises

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Most importantly, I would recommend finding another speech therapist, ideally one who has oral motor experience to assess whether the drooling is related to oral motor, sensory, a combination of the two, or something else.

Sometimes low awareness / tone in the mouth is a sign of low tone elsewhere in the body, so an evaluation with an occupational therapist (OT) would also be a good idea.  The OT will be able to identify or rule out any issues with posture, trunk control, strength, etc.

If all else fails, I have also seen pediatricians successfully prescribe medication to help decrease drooling.  Just be sure to rule everything else out first.

For more possible causes of drooling and treatment strategies, click here.

Although I can’t know exactly what the cause is without evaluating her in person, I hope the above gives you some direction.  Your instincts are certainly there - classic example of mother knows best!!

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Please keep me posted of her progress and let me know if you have any other questions now or in the future.

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All my best,

Debbie

Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP

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