Loss of saliva from the mouth may occur for a variety of reasons. Gum or tooth disease, reflux, upper respiratory infections, allergies, mouth breathing, body position, level of activity or alertness, intensity of concentration, and impaired patterns of movement for the lips, cheeks, tongue and jaw may also result in drooling. Programs emphasizing conscious control of saliva are not effective. Evaluation of all factors affecting saliva control is essential for planning effective interventions to reduce drooling.
Gagging Gagging is a protective reflex. It may be elicited by a number of different stimuli including: olfactory (smell); visual; touch to the posterior third of the palate, inner gums or tongue; touch to the pharynx; stimulation of the vagal nerve in the intestinal track; and stimulation of the semicircular canals in the inner ear following rapid movement of the head or body. Gagging may also occur if a more functional oral response, such as muscle contraction, chewing or swallowing, is not present due to oral motor impairment. By providing controlled pressure and movement on the face and within the mouth, an individual with oral motor impairment can develop those more functional responses, so that gagging is normalized. The goal is to normalize the gag, not to extinguish it. The gag is necessary for protection of the body from unfamiliar or harmful stimuli.