What Causes Drooling While Sleeping? How Can It be Stopped?

Drool is a term used when saliva runs out from the mouth. Adults as well as children can drool if there is excessive accumulation of saliva in mouth, and if the swallowing reflex is relaxed. This usually occurs when a person is asleep, but in some cases it can also occur when awake.

Normally during night saliva secretion in mouth decreases but sometimes it may not be so. Your muscles in mouth and throat are relaxed during night. So the collected saliva instead of going into the throat and stomach slips from the corner of your mouth. It may not occur always, but more often certain health conditions especially pertaining to nervous system disorder such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, or disorders like sleep apnea can cause drooling. Drooling is quiet common symptom. But in rare cases the collected saliva at night may pass into the lungs which may be dangerous because saliva from mouth contains bacteria. It may result in lung infection. If drooling is bothering you there are several medications as well as home remedies that may help to stop this embarrassing problem.


Several causes can lead to drooling during sleep. Here are some common reasons:

  • Improper sleeping position: Saliva often dribbles out when you sleep on your sides or on stomach. However, when you sleep on your back, the saliva accumulated is gulped naturally during sleep preventing drooling.
  • Acidity or GERD: Researchers believe that acid reflux disease can trigger a reflex in esophagus and salivary apparatus. This causes increased production of saliva to dilute the stomach content. Too much of saliva if present during sleep can dribble out especially if your sleep position is sideways.
  • Dental problems: Absence of teeth, broken teeth, gum infection, all can lead to increased salivary secretion which if accumulates at night might dribble out from mouth corner.
  • Neurological conditions: Patient suffering from stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, may tend to drool from mouth in sleep. But some patients may also drool during daytime because of their relaxed or paralyzed muscles of mouth.
  • Medications: Certain medicines are also known to produce too much of saliva in mouth and consequent drooling when asleep. Antipsychotics and drugs used for Alzheimer’s disease are known to produce excessive salivation and dribbling from mouth.
  • Allergies and infection: Allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis, adenitis, all can lead to drooling while sleeping.
  • Sleep Apnea: People who snore a lot or keep their mouth open which can be symptoms of sleep apnea can drool.

How to stop drooling:

Drooling is more of an embarrassment and discomfort for the patient than anything else. Treatment consists of addressing the underlying cause. Treatment consists of comprehensive medical management as well as certain behavioral modifications. Certain medicines are used by doctors that are known to reduce salivary secretion. These medicines are taken on doctor’s prescription. Besides medicines, home measures are also effective in curtailing dribbling. For example if you are sleeping on sides, change your sleeping position. Try to sleep on your back. This will help to prevent soaking your pillow with drooling. Bite a lemon wedge and drink more water during day. Both help to liquefy saliva so that it is easily swallowed down when you are asleep. Use oral appliances as recommended by dentist or orofacial specialist that will reduce the chances of drooling. If you are suffering from sleep apnea use of CPAP machine is great boon in treating this serious disease which not only leads to dribbling from mouth but also increases risk of heart attack. In case dribbling from mouth is out of control and all conventional treatment plans fail, surgical option of removing salivary gland may be thought off.