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Can Teething Cause Diarrhea?

Understanding The Teething Process

Dr. Lourdes Mosqueda Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Lourdes Mosqueda on May 10, 2021

When your baby begins the teething process, they will likely experience some pain and discomfort because of their teeth erupting through their gums. Teething can cause a variety of symptoms, some of which might seem to mimic a cold or other illness.

So, how exactly can you tell if your baby is just teething or if something more serious is going on? Building a thorough understanding of what to expect when your child is teething, and what should be brought up at the doctor’s office, can help you more easily identify teething symptoms versus symptoms of illness.

What To Expect When Your Baby is Teething

The teething process usually starts when your little one is anywhere from 5 to 7 months old, and, more generally, most babies will develop some teeth between the ages of 6 to 12 months.

Some babies may start the process earlier or later… it all comes down to your baby’s specific body. All babies are a little bit different!

The lower front teeth are usually the first teeth to come in, and your child will probably have all 20 of their teeth by their 3rd birthday, or even when they are 2 ½ years old.

The most common symptoms of teething include increased saliva which means increased drooling, chewing on their fingers and hands frequently, and occasionally coughing or gagging because of the extra saliva.

Teething often does not cause extreme discomfort, but there is usually some mild pain at the site of the tooth eruption, and you will probably notice your baby rubbing at the sore parts of their face.

What Are Some Signs and Symptoms of Teething?

When your baby starts teething, they may show signs of pain due to the constant, dull ache that occurs before a tooth erupts. Some things to look out for are:

  • An increase in drooling and dribbling
  • Biting/gumming fingers, hands, anything, and everything
  • Irritability or general grumpiness
  • Sore, swollen, red gums
  • Gum-rubbing
  • Ear and cheek rubbing due to radiating pain
  • A mildly raised temperature NOT exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit

These are all signs that can help you recognize that a baby tooth is on the way, and your little one is feeling it.

What Are NOT Symptoms of Teething and Should Be Discussed with a Doctor?

That said, there are also plenty of misconceptions about what symptoms may be caused by teething. Symptoms that have often been associated with teething, but which are not actually caused by teething, include:

  • Congestion and persistent coughing
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Diarrhea
  • Rashes aside from facial rashes
  • Fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Vomiting

If your baby shows these signs, this is an indication that they may be sick or something else is going on.

Diarrhea has commonly been associated with teething, and some speculate that the increase in saliva caused by teething can somehow lead to loose stool. This has not been proven by healthcare professionals, though, so you should not assume that your baby’s diarrhea is just because they are teething. In fact, in one study of teething babies, only a weak association was found between teething and diarrhea.

Because your baby is more inclined to stick their hands and fingers in their mouth during the teething process, it is likely that any germs on their hands will lead to a cold or other illness, and this may be the reason for the association between teething and diarrhea or teething and a fever.

Coughing is sometimes a regular part of teething because of increased saliva, but it should only be an occasional cough or gag from time to time. More frequent or persistent coughing, however, is consistent with a cold or other illness and should be brought to the attention of a pediatrician.

It is always, always best to play it safe. If you have doubts, concerns, or other questions, it never hurts to consult your pediatrician so that any potential illness can be addressed. If any of these more serious symptoms appear, never assume that they are caused by teething.

How To Ease Your Baby’s Sore Gums

There are a few different strategies you can try when it comes to soothing some of the pain and discomfort your little one may be experiencing while their teeth grow in. These include:

  • Dampening a washcloth, twisting it up, and then placing it in the freezer for a couple hours or until frozen. You can then give it to your child and let them chew on it, or you can use it to gently massage their gums.
  • Offering solid teething rings to your baby can also help ease their discomfort. It is important to try to avoid giving them teething rings that are filled with liquid, as these can easily pop if your baby’s teeth puncture them.
  • Chewy toys are another great option. More specifically, silicone toys as opposed to plastic can be largely helpful, because plastic options can contain harmful chemicals.
  • Cold food or drinks may also ease their symptoms, but the way you approach this method will depend on whether or not your baby has been introduced to solid foods. For a soothing alternative to pain relief, consider a chilled teething ring rather than anything frozen.
  • Massaging their gums is also an easy way to help them feel better, and if you opt for this method, just make sure your hands are nice and clean beforehand.

When these remedies just don’t seem to do the trick, or if your baby is having a particularly rough day or night coping with their discomfort, acetaminophen can come to the rescue.

Genexa’s Kids’ Pain & Fever acetaminophen liquid is a great choice, and you should consult your pediatrician before using it if your child is under 2 years of age. The same goes for any other medicines, too!

Genexa was founded by two dads who wanted the best for their kids but had a hard time finding medicines that don’t contain artificial inactive ingredients. That’s why Genexa makes clean, real medicine with the active ingredients you need, and without the artificial inactive ingredients you don’t need. Genexa’s medicines are still made up of both active and inactive ingredients, but the inactive ingredients are clean options that are non-GMO, gluten-free, and certified vegan.

With Genexa, you can rest assured that you are getting the kind of medicine you and your kids deserve.

The Bottom Line

Teething can sometimes cause pain and discomfort for your baby, and though they cannot verbally tell you that they are hurting, they will likely show signs of pain. These can include rubbing at their cheeks and ears, gnawing on their hands and fingers, and becoming a little bit more irritable or grumpy than usual.

If your child has symptoms like fever, diarrhea, or a cough, these are not normal signs of teething and are more than likely an indication that your baby is sick. Though these symptoms have often been associated with teething, healthcare professionals have not found a direct link between them. Thus, you should never assume that these symptoms are caused by teething.