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Are Infant Teething and Diarrhea Related?

Wendy J. Woudstra

It is a commonly held belief by parents that teething causes diarrhea. Current medical opinion, however, is that there is no evidence of a causal relationship between a child's teething and any issues with the alimentary tract. But what is a parent to think when diarrhea seems to inevitably follow erupting teeth?

The Connection

The myth that teething causes diarrhea is quite prevalent. The most common belief is that the excess saliva caused by teething somehow affects the gastrointestinal system. Medical research, however, has found no such causation between teething and diarrhea.

So why do so many people believe there is a connection? It may be because teething children are prone to pick up bacteria that can cause diarrhea. When a child is teething, he will put anything and everything in his mouth to try to ease the discomfort, and many of those things are not very clean.

In addition, teething usually happens in children when they are between 6 and 24 months old, a time during which a large percentage of children will experience any number of different, completely unrelated, symptoms or ailments. Those symptoms may coincide with teething, but they are likely completely unrelated.

The Problem

When parents believe their child's diarrhea is caused by teething, they may be less concerned than if the cause is unknown. Their lack of diligence may mean missing a diagnosis of a gastrointestinal problem or failing to notice or treat the dehydration that accompanies diarrhea in children.

When your child simultaneously experiences teething and diarrhea, you should ensure that the things he is chewing have been properly cleaned, keep him hydrated, feed him foods that will help control rather than aggravate the condition, and see your doctor immediately if the diarrhea persists.

Learn how to care for your infant's teeth at the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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