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Ask Dr. Sears: Too Old to Drool?

Q. My 2-year-old drools constantly, just the way he did when he was teething. What could be the cause?

A. Some toddlers and preschoolers produce more saliva than others, and that can lead to drooling because the ability to swallow often isn't developed enough in many children this age. Or your child may be cutting his 2-year molars, which are his last four baby teeth.

Excess saliva can be a nuisance -- you'll probably want to change your toddler's wet shirts several times a day. And it can cause such problems as gagging and coughing when it drips down his throat, interfering with his ability to speak clearly. To keep drooling in check and minimize its effects:

 

     

  • Have your son take frequent sips of water throughout the day to help develop his swallowing ability.

     

  • To prevent skin irritation, gently wipe away excess drool with lukewarm water and pat (don't rub) dry.

     

  • Lubricate the area around your child's mouth and chin with a protective emollient, such as petroleum jelly.

     

  • Place an absorbent cotton diaper under his chin or beneath the sheets while he sleeps to help soak up the drool during the night.

     

Once your child's swallowing mechanism matures fully and his molars come in, the drooling should stop. But in the meantime, if you're concerned, mention it to his pediatrician at the next well-child checkup. In rare cases, there may be a physical reason behind your child's problem, such as large tonsils that interfere with his ability to swallow properly.

 

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