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GP Q/A: What causes saliva dribble after sleep or a rest?

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Reader Question:

Hi Dr Joe,

I often experience saliva dribble after sleep/rest, despite eating lightly in the evening and drinking plenty of water and tea. I’ve read on other forums that back-sleeping vs side-sleeping can make a difference however I find that when I fall asleep on my back I end up snoring and turn onto my side.

Interestingly, when I had a cold last week, I experienced the opposite situation which was a much dryer mouth than normal. Now that I’ve recovered from the symptoms of the cold, the annoying saliva dribble is back!



GP Response:

Dr Joe Kosterich MBBS, General Practitioner and Editorial Advisory Board Member of the Virtual Medical Centre and Parenthub responds:Dr Joe

Saliva can leak from the mouth if there is weakness in the muscles around the mouth.

It is very rare as a stand-alone problem and is usually associated with conditions affecting the nerves or muscle of the face. For example it may happen in people after a stroke or in muscular dystrophy or Myasthenia Gravis. However all of these conditions have other symptoms as well!

When you are asleep, the muscles around your mouth relax so the saliva dribble may be more noticeable then. In mild cases it may only be noticed at night.

Beware of tablets which dry the mouth as they can be counterproductive. Also know that this issue is not affected by food and alcohol may make it worse.

Unfortunately there is no specific advice that can be offered here other than it would be worth having a check-up with your doctor.

More information

For more information on saliva, visit Oral Mucosa.


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Posted On: 25 March, 2015
Modified On: 19 May, 2017


Created by: myVMC