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Excessive salivation can be an embarrassing problem to have. It has social connotations that can lead to the ridicule and marginalization of a person. This article helps you understand the causes behind excessive salivation and ways to manage the problem.

If your saliva production is normal, you may never consider all the important roles it fulfills: lubrication, chewing, maintaining a disease-free mouth and even beginning the process of digestion. Three salivary glands produce over 90 percent of your total saliva, with the remaining 10 percent being produced by a number of minor salivary glands.

Sialorrhea or excessive salivation can be diagnosed when the saliva starts to drip beyond the margin of the lip.

A condition of excessive salivation can develop for many reasons, such as increased saliva production, poor muscular control of the lip and other facial muscles, postural problems or other neurological reasons.Take into account that drooling is considered to be normal up until the age of four, beyond which it seen as pathological and indicative of an underlying problem in the body.

Causes Of Excessive Salivation (Sialorrhea)

The most common causes of excessive salivation can be grouped under four main categories. They include:

Neuromuscular Disorders:

  • Mental Retardation
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke

Increased Amount of secretion:

  • Inflammation of the oral tissues due to various causes
  • Side effect of medication
  • Acid reflux
  • Exposure to toxic elements like Mercury and Lead

Anatomic abnormalities:

  • An abnormally large tongue (Macroglossia)
  • An inability to purse the lips (Oral incompetence)
  • Poor dental occlusion

Surgical Defects Following Extensive Head And Neck Surgery

These causes are not necessarily found in exclusion to one another and may, in fact, be closely related in some instances. For example, the presence of a large tongue will lead to excessive pressure being put on the erupting teeth and eventually push them out of normal occlusion. These teeth, which are now pushed outwards, may, in turn, prevent the lips from closing properly — thus further worsening the problem of excessive salivation.

In the case of children who have a reduced mental development pattern, the necessary muscular control over the lips, cheeks and the tongue can lack. Thus, they are unable to swallow the saliva being produced or are unaware that they are drooling. These children are also much more likely to develop inflammation of the oral tissues due to an inability to maintain proper oral hygiene.  

Out of the causes that have been mentioned, dental malocclusion is the one that is most easily corrected. Fixed orthodontic treatment or braces are used to bring the teeth back into their normal position and occlusion.

Of course, for this treatment to be successful in the long term, any other factors that were pushing the teeth out of position in the first place also have to be corrected. It may be necessary to have to extract some of the teeth to make space and pull the remaining teeth inwards.

A thorough medical history of the affected individual will also help recognize any medication or medical problem that may be causing an increased amount of salivation in the first place.

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