The management of drooling in children and patients with mental and physical disabilities: a literature review

Int J Paediatr Dent. 1998 Mar;8(1):3-11. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-263x.1998.00055.x.


Amongst the duties of the paediatric dentist is the provision of oral care to patients with the problem of drooling. Many, but certainly not all, of these patients have physical and/or learning disabilities. Various methods have been advocated for the management of drooling in the paediatric patient and older patients with disabilities, including behavioural programmes, biofeedback techniques, physiotherapy, biofunctional oral appliances, medication and surgery. It is of paramount importance that the patients and/or carers understand the advantages and disadvantages of any treatment method being considered. The paediatric dentist has an important role to play in explaining the different options to the patients and carers, and in implementing some treatment modalities, particularly non-surgical approaches. Referral to surgical specialists should be seen as 'a last resort' and suggested only if other treatment methods have been exhausted. If pharmacological or surgical treatment is carried out, careful monitoring for the development of dental caries and other problems is essential. The aim of this paper is to provide the paediatric dentist with concise overall knowledge of the causes of drooling and treatment options available.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Deglutition / physiology
  • Dental Care for Children*
  • Dental Care for Disabled*
  • Humans
  • Oral Health
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Salivation / physiology
  • Sialorrhea / etiology
  • Sialorrhea / physiopathology
  • Sialorrhea / therapy*