Infant Drooling - Is This Teething?

Drooling is a normal stage in a baby’s development, and in some cases, it may announce that the baby is teething. The first tooth typically appears when the baby is 6 months old; however, it is not uncommon for it to appear when the baby is 3 or 14 months old. The time when the teeth start to appear depends on when the parents started sprouting teeth.

Teething Symptoms

If your baby is teething, she may display any of the following symptoms:

  • red, swollen gums
  • a fluid-filled area where a tooth is about to erupt
  • excessive drooling, due to the fact that the body produces saliva to soften and lubricate the gums and makes the pain more bearable for the child
  • touching her gums or chewing on toys in an attempt to relieve pain
  • crying and irritability, due to the pain caused by teething
  • restlessness
  • sleep problems
  • refusal to eat, due to pain
  • fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • fussiness
  • diarrhea, coughing and a runny nose, in rare cases

Typically, the first tooth to appear is one of the lower central incisors. However, some babies experience multiple teeth eruptions at a time. The eruption of molars may cause more pain than the eruption of frontal teeth, because the molars are larger.

Excessive Drooling

Excessive drooling may have various causes. Babies may have a hard time swallowing all the saliva they produce, because their head and neck muscles are not developed yet. After the age of 4 to 6 months, your baby gains control of her neck and will be able to control drooling.

Other causes of excessive drooling in babies include these:

  • nausea
  • sores in the mouth
  • throat pain
  • infections

Monitor your baby's symptoms. If she displays symptoms such as vomiting, fever, irritability or mouth sores or if she doesn’t gain sufficient weight, consult a doctor.

Dealing with Excessive Drooling

If your baby is drooling excessively, control this problem by wiping the saliva off her cheeks as frequently as possible. Put comfortable bibs around your baby's neck or use a barrier cream around her neck to prevent the formation of rashes. You may also use a small rubber suction device that collects the baby's saliva.

If your baby is teething, ease the pain by applying pressure on her gums with your fingers. Apply cold compresses on them for up to 15 minutes. Consult your pediatrician and ask for recommendations of safe gels for the gums or pain medication if your baby seems to be in a lot of pain.