Any parent of a teething baby will tell you that teething can cause an increase in drooling, chewing behavior and general fussiness. But, does it also cause an increase in dirty diapers? For some parents, the answer may be a resounding "yes," but no studies show a correlation between teething and diarrhea, or between teething and an increase in the number of soiled diapers.
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Teething and Diarrhea
Pediatric dentist Pamela DenBesten, in an August 2000 Western Journal of Medicine article titled "Is Teething Associated with Diarrhea?" explains that many cultures hold the belief that teething and diarrhea are related, when in fact the former does not cause the latter. This is a concern, according to Dr. DenBesten, because parents are less likely to seek help for a child with diarrhea if they think it is due to teething. This can lead to dehydration. If your baby is soiling his diapers more often than usual, it's important to make an appointment to see your pediatrician as soon as possible.
Onset of Teething
Teething usually starts around the age of 6 months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is the same age that the AAP recommends starting solid foods with your baby. So, most babies begin to eat solid foods around the time they start teething. And of course, the baby's stools will change as she starts eating solid foods. Parents may draw a correlation between teething and changes in stools, when really the stool changes and increased amounts of dirty diapers are the results of the newly introduced foods.
Another theory is that the increased amount of saliva produced during teething can cause diarrhea if too much of it is swallowed, according to an article published in Clinical Pediatrics titled "Recognition and Management of Teething Diarrhea Among Florida Pediatricians." The article, which was written by Dr. Jeannine Coreil and two of her colleagues, summarizes clinical studies on teething and diarrhea. It states that although the majority of pediatricians do not believe that there is a direct correlation between teething and diarrhea, the percentage of pediatricians who do believe there's a correlation -- about 35 percent -- has actually increased since the 1970s.
Other Teething Symptoms
Although diarrhea and an increase in dirty diapers is not directly caused by teething, other symptoms are. Symptoms include a slight temperature increase to about 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and red, swollen gums. Ease your baby's pain by giving him cool -- not frozen -- firm items to chew on, such as rubber or plastic teething rings. Do not use oral gels, as these aren't very helpful and can numb the back of your baby's throat if swallowed, according to the AAP.