Teething and drooling is most common when the first teeth erupt. In fact excessive drooling may be the first feature that the baby is teething. Teething in most babies starts around the age of 5 months but may occur a little earlier in some babies at 3 months. Baby drooling is most severe when the first teeth arrive; the drooling is constant and often overflows from the mouth because infants still have not learnt how to swallow saliva.
Sometimes this excess saliva reaches the back of the throat and stimulates a wet cough which is often mistaken for a common cold. Other symptoms which are associated with teething and drooling may be a low grade fever, irritability and a fussy baby. Sometimes excessive baby drooling can also lead to gagging because the baby’s throat reflexes are impaired. However, all parents should understand that baby drooling is not only due to teething and may also be associated with allergies, upper respiratory tract infections, nasal allergies, tonsillitis, strep throat and sometimes there may be a neurological problem. When excessive baby drooling occurs, the saliva does tend to overflow from the mouth and causes a chin rash.
Drooling in babies usually starts within a day after the first teeth erupt and usually lasts 2-3 day. Drooling is usually worse with the first teeth and is less severe when other teeth erupt.
There is no effective treatment for drooling in babies who teeth. Except for keeping the mouth clean and wearing a bib, not much needs to be done. However, babies who drool at night must be placed on their sides to avoid aspiration of saliva into the lungs. Even the cough associated with drooling does not require treatment. The cough is usually mild in nature and as the drooling subsides the cough disappears. A few infants who drool may also have episodes of loose watery stools; this diarrhea may last 24 hrs and is not of any concern. In some cases, drooling can be so severe that the baby is unable to sleep at night. In such cases, constant wiping of the saliva may help.
Experts suggest that drooling is best managed supportive care and maintaining good hygiene. Cold like symptoms with drooling are also common in some babies who teeth. The baby may develop a runny or congested nose and may appear flushed. If these symptoms last more than 3 days, the infant is irritable and refuses to eat; it is wise to get a check up from a physician.
The biologic process of teething is believed to be inherited from parents. There is no mystery associated to teething – it is simply a physiological process. On average, each child develops 20 first teeth by 2-3 years which last till the age of 6. These teeth then begin to fall out at the age of 6 and are replaced by permanent teeth. However, by this time teething and drooling is long forgotten and parents have to deal with other childhood illnesses and tantrums.