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What is the Connection Between Teething and a Runny Nose?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated Feb 08, 2024
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Many parents associate teething and a runny nose because of the cold-like symptoms many children experience during that time. Babies tend to put their hands in their mouths a great deal while they are teething because of the pain and new sensations they are feeling in their gums. Their hands may come in contact with a large amount of germs during the day, which are then introduced into their systems, resulting in a runny nose.

Every baby begins teething at a different age. Most babies have begun to cut their first tooth by their seventh month. They typically receive 20 baby teeth, which are gradually replaced during subsequent years by the full adult set of 32.

The first teeth to appear are the incisors. These are the front two teeth on the upper and lower gums. The lower teeth tend to cut through first. The incisors are followed by first molars, canines, and second molars. Most children have their full set of baby teeth by age three.

A baby who is experiencing both teething and a runny nose may also be suffering from a cough and a low fever. These may be signs that the child is fighting an infection or virus. The mucous in the nose will begin to turn yellow or green if infection sets in and a doctor should be consulted. Clear mucous from both the nose and mouth, however, may indicate that a tooth is pushing through the gums. Other symptoms of teething may include fussiness, excessive biting, drooling, and ear pulling.

There are a variety of safe medications available for infants experiencing these cold-like symptoms. These include fever reducers and decongestants. These drugs generally should not be given to children suspected of cutting a tooth. Most doctors prefer to reserve these to fight actual colds and viruses, and a professional should be consulted before administering the medication.

Many parents choose to deal with teething and a runny nose with natural home remedies. This includes offering the child a toy chilled in the freezer or a frozen waffle to mash with their gums. The cool sensation provides relief for the burning pain caused by the incoming teeth. Parents may also take their babies into the bathroom and run a hot bath or shower to create a large amount of steam. This steam softens the sinus passages and allows the mucous to run freely out of the nose and ease breathing.

There is no definitive connection between teething and a runny nose. In fact, teething has no scientific link with any accompanying symptoms. Side effects of teething are behaviors generally noticed and agreed upon by most parents. Doctors typically hesitate to confirm any theories that associate teething with any other physiological change.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Sep 24, 2014

@literally45-- That's a very good question. I read a study recently that was done on this topic. What they found was that a runny nose was not related to teething. Neither was a fever above 102 degrees.

The only symptoms they found associated with teething were irritability, drooling, itchy gums, biting, less appetite and a slight fever.

So if your daughter's runny nose doesn't go away, she must have picked up something. Watch for other signs of infection like high temperature and coughing and see a doctor if they appear. Teething never causes such extreme symptoms.

By literally45 — On Sep 23, 2014

@ysmina-- But then, how do I know if my daughter is teething or whether she's ill. I don't want to wait until I see colored mucous. I wouldn't want an infection to have developed to that stage before seeing a doctor.

My daughter should be teething soon. Aside from a runny nose though, she doesn't have any other symptoms. I'm not sure if she picked up a virus or if this is the first teething symptom that has occurred so far. It's difficult to tell.

By ysmina — On Sep 23, 2014

Both my sun and daughter had a runny nose when they were teething. I always knew that a new tooth was coming through when the runny nose developed. There might not be scientific evidence for this connection but there is definitely a connection in my view.

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