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Can Teething Cause A Cough?

Understanding The Teething Process

Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology Profile Photo

Written by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology on November 9, 2021

When your baby begins the teething process, it can be a bit of a struggle for both parent and child. The true signs and symptoms of teething can be easily misunderstood, and it can be difficult to decipher what exactly is bothering your baby if the symptoms are not apparent.

Teething can cause certain symptoms that may mimic illness, and vice versa, so it is super important to have a well-founded understanding of what the teething process entails. This will help you keep your little one’s health in check with their baby teeth come in!

The Teething Process: Overview

Believe it or not, your baby’s teeth actually begin to form when they are still in the womb, but they don’t break out through the gums until later on. More specifically, the teething process usually starts around 5 to 7 months of age, but some babies may start the journey a little earlier or a little later -- everybody’s little one is a tiny bit different.

Most often, the first teeth to come through are the bottom, middle teeth, and then the four upper, middle teeth come next. Your baby’s full set of 20 teeth will likely be complete by 2 ½ years of age.

The most common signs and symptoms of teething include gnawing and chewing on fingers or fists continuously, sensitive and swollen gums, general fussiness, and a noticeable increase in drooling.

Other Symptoms

Other symptoms that teething may come along with include:

  • Irritability: This is caused by the sheer discomfort of their teeth erupting, and the first teeth or molars are usually the most uncomfortable.
  • Skin rashes: The teething process can stimulate increased drooling, and this drooling may lead to skin rashes.
  • Coughing: All that extra saliva produced during teething can cause your baby to cough or gag occasionally.
  • Low-grade fever: A low-grade fever is one ranging from 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit, and is typically caused by your little one putting their unclean hands in their mouth… which tends to happen a lot while babies are teething.
  • Cheek rubbing and ear pulling: The pain in your baby’s gums can actually travel and radiate to their cheeks and ears, especially if their molars are coming in. As a result, your baby will start rubbing or pulling at those areas.
  • Diarrhea: It is possible that the increased saliva production can cause your baby’s stool to become loose, but more research is needed to determine this. Moreso, it is largely recommended that if you notice this, you should consult your pediatrician to make sure nothing more serious is going on.

When To Call Your Pediatrician

If your baby begins showing signs of illness, like low-grade fever and diarrhea, it is important to get in touch with your pediatrician. These commonly occur alongside teething but are not directly caused by the teething itself, so you should keep your eyes peeled.

If your baby has become extremely fussy and cries much more often than they did before they started teething, this, too, should be investigated. Concerning symptoms like this should be looked at completely independently from their teething so that the possibility of illness or other serious problems is not overlooked.

Is My Baby Teething or Actually Sick? Knowing the Difference

A critical part of being a parent when your baby starts teething is knowing how to differentiate between symptoms of the teething process and indications of illness.

Keep this in mind: teething itself likely does not cause diarrhea, a fever, or a cold, so signs of these should be taken seriously.

Teething can make your baby feel warmer than usual, but if their temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, this is a fever and should be discussed with your pediatrician. A fever caused by illness will also be associated with other symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, a cough, poor feeding, and vomiting. Teething can cause your baby to cough or gag every now and then, but more persistent or constant coughing is more likely to be indicative of a cold or other illness.

A good rule of thumb is that if you are at all unsure of what is causing your baby discomfort, you should contact your pediatrician. Play it safe!

How To Relieve Teething Discomfort

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help soothe any discomfort your baby may experience as a result of their teeth growing in. The absolute best way to help ease their symptoms is to give them chewing toys, cold items, and a massage.

A great strategy is to wet a washcloth, twist it up, and place it in the freezer for a couple of hours until frozen. You can then give it to your baby for them to chew on, or you can use it to massage their gums. You can also try:

  • Teething rings: While both solid teething rings and liquid-filled teething rings are available, the solid options are likely a safer choice because your baby’s sharp teeth have the potential to puncture a liquid-filled product… and that sure would make for quite the mess, not to mention what kind of bacteria might be inside that ring.
  • Chewy toys: Chewy toys made of silicone or latex, as opposed to plastic, are also a wonderful choice. Plastic can contain harmful chemicals, so it is best to avoid this if possible.
  • Frozen banana or berries: If your infant is a bit older and has already been introduced to solid foods, offering them pieces of a frozen banana or some frozen berries may be a yummy and fun way to help them feel better!
  • A sippy cup of cool water: This strategy is great if your baby is older than 6 to 9 months, and it works because the temperature of the water helps soothe their sore gums.

Sometimes, these remedies might not be enough to calm the discomfort your child is experiencing. In this case, medicine might be a good idea.

Genexa’s Kids’ Pain & Fever acetaminophen oral suspension may be able to help relieve your baby’s sore gums. Genexa is the first clean medicine brand, offering real, clean medicine that contains the active ingredients you need without the artificial inactive ingredients that are often found in many OTC medicines.. Genexa was founded by two dads on a mission, so they know what it’s like to be parents who want the best for their kids.

With any medicine, it is always important to consult your pediatrician first so that they can offer further guidance regarding dosages and proper usage.

The Bottom Line

While teething can cause a variety of symptoms, it does not cause a fever, diarrhea, or a cold. The excess saliva caused by teething may make your baby cough or gag occasionally, but more persistent coughing is likely a sign of illness.

Common symptoms of teething include increased drooling, cheek and ear rubbing, irritability, and sensitive and swollen gums.

Anytime that you have trouble recognizing what may be causing your babies symptoms, you should consult your pediatrician so that any illness is dealt with accordingly.

For any discomfort that is caused by teething, massaging your baby’s gums, letting them chew on cold items, and using medicine when necessary can all help soothe your little one’s sore gums. Teething usually starts around 5 to 7 months of age, and by 2 ½ years old, all 20 of your baby’s teeth will likely be grown in.