Asking for a Friend: What Causes Adult Drooling and How Do You Stop It? 

2021-02-05T17:23:19+00:00January 13th, 2021|Adam Brown DDS, Drooling|

It’s a question we’ve all asked at one point or another. Sure, you never drool, but just in case you know a friend or family member who does, it’s worth knowing more about! Adam Brown DDS is here to cure your curiosity on the topic, with a few facts and some information that might be helpful for “your friend”. 

When we think of drooling, we picture a cartoon swooning over another character, saliva dripping from the corner of the mouth. But for some of us, drooling is part of our reality. Many of us are familiar with waking up to drool stains on our pillow—especially if we’re side-sleepers—or wiping away the constant drool from a baby’s mouth. But when is drooling no longer normal, what even causes it, and how do you stop it from happening? Let’s sort this problem out together: 

 

WHAT CAUSES DROOLING—THE SIMPLE ANSWER 

It might be a surprise to those of us who drool, but we produce quite a bit less drool when we sleep than while we are awake. Naturally, our muscles relax as we sleep. So why do we drool? Well, the short answer is gravity. When we sleep on our back, the saliva rests in the back of the throat and drains. When we sleep on our sides or stomach, accumulated drool can slip through our lips. 

But drooling doesn’t always occur because we sleep. There are many possible reasons why an adult could be drooling. If you asked your dentist about it, they might ask you questions like:  

  • Are there any known medical issues? 
  • Do you have any issues with allergies? 
  • Are you known to be a mouth breather? 

Depending on how and when it’s occurring, or even down to the individual, drooling can have several different causes. Let’s discuss some of the most common scenarios below: 

 

Nightguard Drooling 

Wearing a dental nightguard is not the most comfortable bedtime routine, and when they’re new to us, it feels unnatural and uncomfortable. As you adjust to nightguards, you might experience drooling. We know there’s nothing worse than wet, soggy pillows, but rest assured (no pun intended) that the drooling is temporary. It might take a few weeks for your brain to get used to the appliance in your mouth, but it will eventually adjust, and your glands will return to producing a normal amount of saliva as you sleep. 

 

Allergies & Mouth Breathing 

Blocked nasal passages due to allergies can cause you to breathe through your mouth, leading to increased drooling. This can happen when you ingest a food ingredient you’re allergic to, as your body attempts to flush the toxins out by producing more saliva. However, it’s most often caused by seasonal allergies like mold and pollen. If you’re dealing with a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes, the allergies likely have something to do with your drooling.  

 

Acidity/GERD 

This digestive condition washes stomach acid back into the esophagus. This damages the lining of your esophagus and can cause difficulty swallowing, thus leading to excessive drooling for some people.  

  

Sinus Infection 

Blocked sinuses are never fun. So, if you’re experiencing nasal congestion due to an infection, or if you have regularly enflamed sinuses, you might find yourself breathing through your mouth more often and drooling. 

 

Tonsillitis 

This condition inflames the glands in the back of your throat or tonsils. As the glands swell, the passage becomes more narrow and obstructs the drainage of saliva. The saliva then builds up, and gravity does its work.  

 

Sleep Disorders 

Drooling is a known symptom in those suffering from sleep terrors or sleep conditions like sleep apnea, sleepwalking, and sleep talking. Sometimes the medications taken to counteract these conditions can also cause increased saliva production (more on medications later). 

 

Illnesses 

Common illnesses such as strep throat, infectious mononucleosis, and sinus infections can cause people to experience excess drooling. Some other health conditions that are known to cause drooling include: 

Epiglottitis. Your epiglottis is a plate of tissue in the back of your throat. Epiglottitis occurs when that tissue gets infected and swells, making it difficult to swallow.   

Bell’s palsy. Individuals with Bell’s palsy experience muscle weakness on one side of the face. The weakness can vary from mild to severe.  

Guillain-Barrè syndrome. This syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that damages nerves in various parts of the body.  

 

Major Health Crises 

After a stroke, or as a result of cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis (MS), drool can be a symptom of a neurological condition or other health condition. 

Medical issues that are symptomatic of drooling can range in severity and include a variety of conditions. Drooling can occur from posturing issues or low muscle tone in the lips, jaw, and tongue. More severe issues may require a specialist, such as a speech pathologist. But some drooling may be a cause of more simple conditions like allergies, sleep deprivation, or sleeping on your side. 

 

Side Effects from Medications  

Several medications can cause your body to increase its saliva production. This is particularly true of medications used for treating Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders, and myasthenia gravis (MG)—a neuromuscular disease that harms skeletal muscles.  

If you’re taking any such medications, be sure to discuss the issue with your healthcare provider. For example, if you’re taking a certain medication for depression, you’ll want to speak with a behavioral health specialist to go over alternative treatment options. If you’re taking medications for a neurological condition, ask your neurologist about any other solutions.  

 

NORMAL AGES FOR DROOLING 

Drooling is a normal process throughout the infancy and toddler stages. Infants have immature musical control, and saliva helps to soften food and ease swallowing. Also, increased saliva protects babies’ teeth from tooth decay. Drooling becomes more frequent around three to six months of age. Because babies’ teeth are erupting from the gums, their saliva production increases, and thus, the drooling increases. Once children are past the toddler milestone, drooling can be a sign of further social and developmental issues. 

 

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR DROOLING IS NORMAL 

Talk to your dentist and your doctor. If drooling is decreasing your quality of sleep or creating other issues, then it might be time to seek medical help. If you’re experiencing a known major illness or health condition, talking to your medical professionals is the best way to determine if your drooling is normal. There’s no substitute for a professional’s opinion.  

 

COMMON CONSEQUENCES OF DROOLING  

Yes, drooling is annoying. But it can also have a more profound impact on your physical and mental health. Frequent drooling can cause your skin to chap, become irritated, or even break out. Also, if you have trouble swallowing and often experience saliva pooling in your throat, it can lead to aspiration pneumonia (a severe lung infection). Moreover, drooling can cause feelings of embarrassment, especially when it happens in public, and it can harm one’s self-esteem.  

 

HOW TO STOP DROOLING: TREATMENT OPTIONS 

Identifying the cause of your drooling is the first step to treating it. If your drooling stems from allergies, sinus problems, or other minor conditions, the culprit is likely open-mouth breathing. For some cases, there’s an easy fix, while more extensive cases require different treatments. Let’s take a look at some of the most practical options you have in regards to drooling less (or not all): 

 

Changing Sleeping Positions 

The good news is that there is an easy fix! We recommend aiming to sleep on your back instead of your side. This will keep the saliva draining down your throat rather than out of your mouth. It might take a little while to get used to this sleeping position, but your body and mind should be able to adjust within a few weeks. And if you find yourself having breathing issues or acid reflux when purposefully sleeping on your back, you may need to seek further treatment.  

 

Homemade Remedies 

Homemade remedies are also worth trying. Some people suggest that to decrease drooling, biting a lemon wedge, consuming citrus, or drinking more water will thin the saliva and make it less likely to pool in your mouth. 

 

Using a Mandibular Device 

Some treatment options are more rigorous. Your dentist might recommend a mandibular device to help you sleep more comfortably and drool less. This oral device is like a nightguard. Your dentist can direct you where to purchase a mandibular device, but they can also be purchased online. Wherever you choose to buy your device, make sure you consult your dentist beforehand for recommendations.  

 

Botox Injections 

Another option is to get Botox injections. While this sounds a bit aggressive, it’s a viable approach to reduce hypersalivation. By injecting Botox into the saliva glands, the glands will stop overproducing saliva. This treatment is only temporary, however, and your glands will return to their normal function after the Botox wears off. 

 

CPAP Machine 

If your drooling is a result of sleep apnea, then a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine will make sure you’re positioned safely as you sleep and that you can breathe properly. Thus, it helps you to get a better, deeper night’s sleep. It should be noted, though, that the CPAP may not entirely prevent drooling. 

 

Surgery 

In extreme cases, it may be recommended that you remove your saliva glands. This is often the recommended treatment for people who have underlying neurological issues—not for those who are merely experiencing discomfort drooling while sleeping. This type of surgery is usually very successful, but it shouldn’t be the first thing you try in an attempt to stop your drooling. 

 

Medications  

Depending on the severity of your drooling, a doctor might recommend medication. This is especially the case if you have a neurological condition. For example, scopolamine (also “hyoscine”) is a medication often used to prevent drooling, as it effectively cuts off nerve impulses to the salivary glands. If you’re prescribed this medication, chances are it will come in patch form; you’ll simply place the patch behind your ear and replace it every 72 hours. It’s worth noting that scopolamine comes with potential side effects, such as rapid heart rate, itchy eyes, dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness.  

Another medication that can decrease drooling is glycopyrrolate. While it works similarly to scopolamine, it can yield more severe side effects including hyperactivity, irritability, skin flushing, decreased sweating, and difficulty urinating.  

 

Speech Therapy  

Finally, speech therapy can go a long way in decreasing—or even stopping—your drooling issues. That’s because the core goal of speech therapy is to increase jaw stability and make the tongue stronger and more mobile. Over time, speech therapy can teach you simple techniques that can help you swallow more easily and drool less.  

 

In Conclusion 

At the end of the day, drooling is not particularly unusual, nor should it be embarrassing. Most of the time, it can be curbed by making minor changes in habit or through simple treatment options. If you’re concerned about drooling or whether or not your saliva production is normal, Adam Brown DDS is here to assess your oral health. Your dentist will discuss with you if drooling is a sign of a more serious health diagnosis and get you on the right track for treatment. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment! 

 

 

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Mouthguards 101: When Do Kids (and Adults) Need Them?

2020-12-21T19:02:51+00:00December 21st, 2020|Mouthguards|

If your kid is active in any way, you probably know about the importance of wearing a helmet, knee pads, and goggles. But one protective device that doesn’t get quite as much attention as it should is the mouthguard. 

In some kids’ sports, mouthguards are required. However, many sports don’t require them, which makes it easy to underestimate their function or simply forget to have your child wear one. Nonetheless, if your kid is participating in a sport that involves any kind of potential contact—with other individuals, the ground, or objects—then wearing a mouthguard should be part of their daily routine. 

Still not convinced? Well, the American Dental Association (ADA) estimates that mouthguards help prevent more than 200,000 dental injuries each year. Moreover, about three-million teeth are knocked out in kids’ sports in any given year! And mouthguards not only help prevent teeth from being knocked out, chipped, or fractured, they can even protect your tongue, lips, and face from injury, as well as help to lessen the impact from blows to the head. 

Below, we’ll cover the basics of mouthguards—including the different types, the sports that necessitate them, how both kids and adults can benefit from them, and more. 

 

WHAT ARE MOUTHGUARDS? 

Also referred to as a sports guard or mouth protector, a mouthguard is a device worn over the teeth to protect them from blows to the head or face. Along with helping prevent injuries to your teeth, a mouthguard can help protect your face and jaw, as well as the soft tissues of your tongue, lips, and cheek lining. If your kid plays any kind of sport that involves body contact, falls, or moving equipment, they should be wearing a mouthguard at all times while participating. 

In most cases, a mouthguard covers only the upper teeth. This is because your upper teeth stick out more, which means they receive the brunt of impact during an incident. The bottom teeth are a little further back, so they are typically safer from harm. 

Mouthguards are not only useful for kids playing sports. Adults can also benefit from them, whether they play contact sports or suffer from sleep disorders (which we’ll cover later). 

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF MOUTHGUARDS 

Not all mouthguards are created equally. There are three main types, each of which works well in specific instances:

 

Stock Mouthguards 

This is the most accessible and cost-effective type of mouthguard, as almost any drugstore or sporting goods store carries them. Typically, stock mouthguards come in small, medium, and large sizes, and they simply fit over the upper teeth. 

Stock mouthguards work well if your kid plays contact sports only occasionally. However, whatever you open in the package is what you get. And since they’re not moldable, they usually don’t fit very well, are uncomfortable, and can make speaking difficult. 

 

Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards

Going a step up, a boil-and-bite mouthguard is similar to a stock mouthguard, except you can mold it to your teeth. This makes a big difference. A boil-and-bite mouthguard comes in one size; you mold it by boiling it until it softens, placing it over your upper teeth, and biting down. The mouthguard then dries and hardens to the shape of your teeth. Considering that boil-and-bite mouthguards are just as widely available and almost as inexpensive, they are clearly the better option over stock mouthguards. 

 

Custom Mouthguards

Then there are custom mouthguards. These are more expensive, but they are ideal when it comes to comfort and fit. In short, a dentist will take a mold of your teeth and fabricate a mouthguard to the exact specifications of your teeth and mouth structures. Kids who play sports regularly can greatly benefit from custom mouthguards, as can adults who deal with snoring or sleep apnea. 

 

SPORTS THAT CALL FOR MOUTHGUARDS 

As previously mentioned, your child will likely be required to wear mouthguards while playing certain sports. However, even if the league does not require it, that doesn’t mean your child should not wear a mouthguard. Here is a list of sports for which a mouthguard is necessary:

  • Hockey
  • Basketball
  • Indoor Soccer
  • Wrestling
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Outdoor Soccer
  • Lacrosse
  • Volleyball
  • Skateboarding
  • Raquetball
  • Martial Arts
  • Baseball
  • Softball

It’s worth noting that, along with competitions, mouthguards should be worn in all practices. 

 

BENEFITS OF CUSTOM MOUTHGUARDS 

The benefits of getting a custom mouthguard are many, which is why we’ve dedicated a section to explain why you should consider getting your child (or yourself) fitted for a custom mouthguard. Here are a few advantages of investing in a custom mouthguard from your dentist:

 

Perfect Fit 

Even at its best, a stock mouthguard will only fit well enough to stay on your teeth when your mouth is closed. A boil-and-bite mouthguard will fit better than that, but it will still be prone to coming loose, especially if you wear it regularly. That problem is fixed with a custom mouthguard. 

A qualified dentist like Adam Brown can have a mouthguard perfectly fitted to your teeth. You’ll simply come in to have an impression taken of your teeth, the cast will be sent to a dental lab, and you’ll come back to the dental office to test its fit. Chances are you’ll leave with a reliable mouthguard that fits snuggly and comfortably.

 

Optimal Comfort

When a custom mouthguard is fabricated for your teeth and mouth, it’s simply going to be more comfortable than a generic mouthguard. This is especially critical for children. After all, if your child’s mouthguard hurts or irritates them, they will be less likely to wear it of their own volition. 

 

Better Protection

Along with optimal fit and comfort, a custom mouthguard will provide you with more protection than other types. And protection is the whole point when it comes to mouthguards. The reason for this is that a custom impression will account for all the unique shapes and features of your teeth and mouth. For example, if your child has braces, a custom mouthguard will be shaped to accommodate the wires; that way, the wires won’t hurt your child or break during impact. 

 

The Right Thickness

One overlooked attribute of mouthguards is the thickness. How thick your mouthguard should be will depend on what you need it for. For example, if your child is participating in a sport that involves frequent significant impact, such as martial arts, they will need a thicker mouthguard than someone who plays racquetball. Your dentist will discuss with you the activities for which your mouthguard is needed and help you determine the appropriate thickness. 

 

Cost-Effectiveness

Yes, it will set you back more than a stock or boil-and-bite mouthguard, but a custom mouthguard can still prove to be cost-effective. In fact, it can end up being cheaper in the long run. This is for two reasons. First, generic mouthguards found at drugstores and sporting goods stores wear out rather quickly, meaning you have to replace them often. Second, because custom mouthguards are perfectly tailored to your specific teeth and mouth structures, chances of severe injuries and costly procedures are less likely. 

 

OTHER REASONS TO GET A MOUTHGUARD 

Mouthguards are essential for kids (and adults) who play sports. But they can also benefit the health and well-being of adults when it comes to snoring and sleep apnea. Let’s discuss how the right mouthguard can help with each of these conditions:

 

Snoring 

Almost everyone snores from time to time. But for some people, it’s a chronic problem that can lead to a wide range of health issues (in addition to being annoying to your partner). For example, snoring can disrupt sleep, which can lead to daytime sleepiness. This, in turn, can lead to difficulty concentrating, hindered productivity, frequent irritability or anger, and/or impaired driving. Snoring can also put you at a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and many other health issues. 

In the most basic sense, snoring occurs when the soft tissue in your upper airway vibrates. A custom mouthguard can fix this problem. The right mouthguard—one that fits over both the upper and lower teeth—will help to pull your lower jaw forward, which will keep your airway open throughout the night. There are numerous over-the-counter mouthguards that supposedly prevent or reduce snoring. But these types of mouthguards have yet to be proven to work as effectively as custom mouthguards. 

 

Sleep Apnea

Often associated with snoring but much more serious, sleep apnea is a condition that calls for immediate action. In essence, sleep apnea means that your breathing pauses repeatedly throughout the night. Each time you stop breathing, your body wakes up in order to start breathing again. Obviously, such frequent interruptions make it virtually impossible to get restful sleep. 

There’s more. Along with making you chronically sleepy, sleep apnea can lead to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and a whole host of other health conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Acid reflux
  • A weakened immune system 
  • Asthma
  • Liver problems
  • Low blood oxygen 
  • High cholesterol

Much like with snoring, a custom mouthguard can benefit those with mild sleep apnea. By pulling your lower jaw and tongue forward, your airway is better able to remain open during sleep. You can even get a mouthguard that has a strap, which helps to re-adjust your lower jaw. It’s important to note, however, that if you suffer from a more severe case of sleep apnea, then you should ask your doctor about using a CPAP machine in lieu of a mouthguard. 

 

HOW TO CARE FOR MOUTHGUARDS 

If you or your child are using a mouthguard, it’s essential that you take the necessary steps to keep it clean and in good shape. Always brush and floss your teeth before wearing a mouthguard, and rinse the mouthguard with cool water before and after each use. To take it a step further, clean your mouthguard with a toothbrush and toothpaste between uses. Be sure to store your mouthguard in a hard, ventilated container so that it can stay dry while you’re not using it. Finally, always be on the lookout for signs of wear so that you will know when to replace it, and let your dentist evaluate it at each visit. 

 

WEARING MOUTHGUARDS WITH ORTHODONTIC DEVICES

Not only can you wear mouthguards when you have braces, dental implants, or dental bridges, but a custom mouthguard can go a long way in protecting both your teeth and orthodontic devices during impact. This is because the mouthguard fits around the unique shapes of your braces, implants, and/or bridges

 

INSURANCE AND MOUTHGUARDS 

Lastly, check with your dental insurance provider about their policies on custom mouthguards. Some plans will cover some or all of the costs associated with custom mouthguards, and you can also use funds from your health savings account (HSA) to pay for either custom or generic mouthguards. Moreover, some dental offices will provide you with a payment plan if your insurance will not cover the costs.  

 

In Sum 

The right mouthguard can do wonders in protecting your child from serious oral injuries when playing contact sports. The same goes for you if you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea as an adult. Be sure to consult your dentist about the type of mouthguard that will best meet the needs of you or your child. And remember, Adam Brown is just a call away if you would like an appointment to get fitted for that custom mouthguard! 

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