Chronic drooling, sometimes called sialorrhoea (say: SYE-a-loe-REE-ah) is the loss of saliva from the mouth. This is normal before the age of 15-18 months, although, a high number of children do continue to drool until 3 years of age, especially when they are eating or drinking. Drooling in the healthy older child is not normal. 

Sometimes drooling is described using a method called the "modified Teachers Drooling Scale", as shown in the table below. 

Modified Teachers Drooling Scale

Chronic drooling is common in children with Cerebral Palsy, but is most common in those who are also developmentally disabled including children with diseases such as Rett syndrome, Angelman syndrome and epilepsy. Drooling is often linked with poor mouth and tongue control.

Chronic drooling can have an impact on both health and quality of life. Effects can include:

  • Irritated and broken down skin
  • Dehydration
  • Constant wetness and foul smelling clothes
  • Interference with personal relationships
  • Low self-esteem

In addition, children with more severe drooling can breathe the saliva into the lungs instead of swallowing it. This increases the chance of pneumonia.

When a child needs treatment for their chronic drooling this usually begins with practical aids such as speech therapy and physiotherapy. There also are medicines available to treat chronic drooling and these should be discussed with the child’s doctor.

Date of last revision of page: 15th February 2017