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Excessive dribbling

Excessive dribbling

Dribbling is a normal process, every child dribbles until they learn to swallow their own saliva effectively. Sometimes dribbling can become excessive and not typical against a child’s peers, this may have an impact on the child.

Our speech and language therapists can work with children with excessive dribbling to prevent the problems dribbling causes and to increase the child’s confidence and self-esteem.

What is excessive dribbling?

Dribbling is typical for all children as they learn to handle the saliva in their mouths appropriately. Many children begin to dribble excessively during teething, this is normal and most children dribble the most between 9 and 18 months. After a child reaches 4 years and is still dribbling excessively, this is classed as atypical.

What causes excessive dribbling?

Excessive dribbling is usually caused by teething or the child not swallowing regularly enough. It can sometimes be caused by conditions that cause decreased muscle tone or sensory issues, if the child is unaware of the dribbling. Children with neurological conditions or physical disabilities may also dribble excessively. Children with primary conditions where dribbling is a characteristic, can reduce their dribbling but may not be able to stop it fully.

What problems caused by excessive dribbling can speech and language therapy help with?

Children with excessive dribbling may experience many problems that speech and language therapy can help with, including:

  • Skin irritation and infections.
  • Stress and anxiety of the child and the family.
  • Lack of confidence and self-esteem caused by the dribbling.
  • Dehydration.
  • Child feeling uncomfortable if the dribbling is causing a wet patch on clothing.

How can SLT for Kids help a child with excessive dribbling?

Speech and language therapy has several benefits for a child with excessive dribbling, including:

  • Reduction of family and child stress and anxiety.
  • Increasing confidence and self-esteem.
  • Preventing skin irritation and bacterial infections.

Kids Feeding Team

SLT for Kids work closely with the Kids Feeding Team, in order to ensure each child has a safe and effective swallow. The Kids Feeding Team is a multidisciplinary team that work closely with a variety of childrens support needs.


What would treatment for a child with excessive dribbling involve?

Speech and language therapists use various treatment and assessments to treat a child with excessive dribbling, including:

  • Assessment of dribbling to identify the root cause of the problem.
  • Advice and education for parents and carers.
  • Oral motor strategies and exercises to strengthen muscles of mouth and swallow.
  • Behavioural strategies on how to reduce the dribbling through behaviours e.g. don’t touch mouth.
  • Exercises to ensure effective lip closure when eating.
  • Education on how to be aware of and deal with any other swallowing or breathing difficulties that may be associated with dribbling.

Our speech and language therapists are able to identify when the child would benefit from input from another health professional from our kids feeding team, and will refer to the relevant professional when appropriate.

How do I arrange an assessment for my child with excessive dribbling?

To arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for excessive dribbling with one our speech and language therapists please call 0330 088 2298.


Dribbling is typical through every child's development, particularly when teething. Excessive dribbling can cause problems for a child. The main cause of dribbling is the child not swallowing their saliva regularly enough. Speech and language therapy can help children with excessive dribbling to implement strategies to reduce their dribbling and increase their confidence.

If your child has excessive dribbling and you think they would benefit from seeing one of our specialist paediatric speech and language therapists, email office@sltforkids.co.uk or call 0330 088 2298.

Talk to us

If you would like any more information on any of the services we offer or would like to book an appointment, do not hesitate to contact us and one of our team will be happy to help. Email office@sltforkids.co.uk or call 0330 088 2298.

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