Are Infant Teething And Diarrhea Related?
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 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.
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.
Is teething associated with diarrhea?
The common perception among dentists is that teething in babies and children may be accompanied by increased drooling, a slight rise in temperature, and perhaps increased irritability, but these symptoms are relatively minor. Teething and diarrhea are not usually associated. The article by Graham and colleagues reminds us that although this relatively benign view of teething-related discomfort is held by much of the western world, other cultures may hold very different views.
As the authors mention, lancing the gums overlying erupting primary teeth was a common procedure in Europe and the United States in the late 19th an dearly 20th centuries. They discuss a variation on this practice in which lancing and possible tooth extraction are limited to the area of the primary canines. Perhaps some cultures perceive the eruption of the canines to cause more symptoms than the eruption of other teeth. The practice of lancing thegums overlying the primary canines or extracting the unerupted teeth is certainly of concern. These practices can lead to altered esthetics and spacing in the permanent dentition, as well as trauma to the infant. As the authors indicate, the use of nonsterile techniques may cause increased morbidity and even mortality.
The fact that some women believe that their child’s diarrhea is due to tooth eruption is of concern to primary care professionals. In studies conducted in Florida and in western Africa,parents tended to view the diarrhea as less serious when they thought it was due to teething. But children with “teething diarrhea” are just as likely to develop dehydration as children with nonteething diarrhea. Primary care providers should be aware of these various beliefs regarding the relationship between infant diarrhea and teething. They should educate parents to recognize early signs of dehydration and should discourage the belief that teething causes diarrhea. Source: colgate.com