A Mom’s Guide to Teething Fever [Signs, Symptoms, & Remedies]

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Is there such a thing as teething fever?  Many mothers are concerned about the health and comfort of their teething child. This article gives a few tips on teething symptoms and oral care during this rough time for babies.

It is the joy of every parent to see their kids develop a healthy and happy smile. Most children will start teething around six months of age.

Usually the lower front incisors come in first although some children can be delayed up to 15 to 18 months of age before their first tooth erupts, as it is individually dependent on the pace of each child’s dental development.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Dental Association all recommend a first dental visit at age one. Visiting a pediatric dentist is another great resource for your teething questions and overall oral health.

Can Teething Cause Fevers?

Anecdotally, a number of things are said to cause low-grade rise in body temperature during the teething period, and so the term “teething fever” is often brought up.

One among them is the inflammation of the gum during the eruption of the teeth. If your  baby experiences a rise in temperature that goes beyond 100° F or has diarrhea, there is a high chance that the child is sick with another disease that is not related to a “teething fever.” In such a case, it is recommended that your child see their pediatrician.

An extensive literature review was conducted and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics looking into the signs and symptoms of primary tooth eruption. For body temperature analyses, tooth eruption could lead to rise in temperatures, but not characterized as fevers.

It is always good for parents to have a portable thermometer to check the baby’s temperature in order to monitor the severity of fevers.

What are The Causes of Teething Fever?

A number of things are said to cause low-grade fever during the teething period. One among them is the inflammation of the gum during the eruption of the teeth. There is also an excessive production of the saliva, which is thought to go down the gut and loosen the stool. The loose stool is not as watery as diarrhea. If the infant has many other problems that those discussed below, there is a high chance that the child is sick with another disease that is not related to its teeth. In such a case, it is advisable that you see a doctor.

How Long Does Teething Fever Last?

The inflammation of the gum only happens when the gums are swollen and when the baby tooth breaks through the surface of the gum. This pain and fever should last a couple of days. However, the baby teeth break through the gum at different periods as the child grows. With each baby tooth causing inflammation, the fever cycle may happen repeatedly.

This may make it seem like it is taking forever. Fortunately, the child temperature recorded when the child gets its first few teeth goes down with subsequent teeth. Therefore, as the milk teeth fill the baby mouth, the pain and child fever associated with it go down.

Common Teething Symptoms and Early signs

The severity of teething symptoms differs from one teething baby to another. There are children that become “fussy” while other parents are surprised to see a new tooth because of lack of signs. Some commonly reported signs of baby teething include:

  • Drooling: several parents report excessive saliva production with teething. Drooling is also normal for this stage of a baby’s development and may not be a reliable teething predictor.
  • Teething rash: If drooling occurs with teething, the constant dripping of fluid on the skin may cause a teething rash that may be characterized as chapping, chafing, rashes, or redness around the chin and the mouth.
  • Gag reflex and coughing: excessive salivation could trigger an infant’s cough or gag reflex.
  • Biting: Some babies seem to find relief from teething pressure by chewing and biting.
  • Crying/irritability: Some teething babies appear to experience discomfort due to the inflammation of the gums. Parents often describe this as “fussy” behavior.
  • Bleeding: Occasionally an eruption hematoma that may form on the child’s gums overlying a tooth as it erupts.  An eruption hematoma would look like a red or purple blister. Most often this resolves on its own as the tooth erupts.

In a review conducted by Tighe et al in 2007 on teething, a variety of symptoms that may occur simultaneously with tooth eruption was demonstrated, but no evidence suggested these could predict the time when the tooth would come into the mouth.

How to tell if the child is sick

The timing of eruption of the primary teeth (6 months onward) coincides with the age when infants start to explore their environment. In this phase, the introduction of hands and objects into the mouth is normal. This has the potential to introduce microorganisms that may cause illness.

The signs and symptoms of common childhood illnesses can be similar to those of the teething problems. The child can get irritable and refuse to eat, or have difficulty sleeping. Some common signs of illness:

  • The child has a runny nose or sounds congested
  • A fever
  • There are rashes on the child’s the body
  • The child is vomiting or has diarrhea

If you see any of these symptoms or are not sure whether your child suffers from a disease or teething problems, do not hesitate to seek the assistance of a pediatrician for proper care.

What Can You Do To Ease Teething?

A few safe suggestions to soothe your child’s gums when teething are:

Chewing

As discussed above, chewing creates counter-pressure that provides relief against the teeth that are pushing their way through. You can aid your infant by giving them something safe to chew on such as the bumpy rubber teething rings and rattles. Many teething babies also love chilled items to chew. You may try keeping teething toys in your refrigerator to cool them.

Massaging the gums

You can also offer relief to the child by rubbing a clean finger or soft washcloth firmly on the baby’s gums.

Avoid using numbing gels

It is not recommended to rub teething tablets or gels on your baby’s gums. These remedies offer short-lived teething pain relief and some of them contain ingredients that may be harmful to children’s health if given too high a dose. Some of the ingredients include benzocaine and belladonna, both of which have potential for toxicity in infants.

In January 2017 the US Food and Drug Administration warned caregivers to stop using homeopathic teething tablets and gels such as Hyland’s tablets and Baby Orajel Naturals. The agency warns that the tablets and gels “may pose a risk” to infants and advises parents to take their child to a doctor immediately if they experience these seizures or difficulty breathing, lethargy, muscle weakness, excessive sleepiness, constipation, skin flushing, agitation and/or constipation.

Use of pain relievers

If your teething baby is particularly irritable and over six months of age you may give infant Motrin or Tylenol to help with pain management if their pediatrician has said it is ok. It is recommended that you seek the opinion of the doctor first and consult regarding the dosage based on age and weight of the child.

Amber teething necklaces are not recommended

Although some parents anecdotally report improvement in teething signs and symptoms with amber necklaces, they have not ever been proven to work in relieving the teething pain and symptoms. More importantly, they present a risk of strangulation and choking especially when the baby is not monitored. To be on the safe side, consider other alternatives.

When Do You Seek the Assistance of a Doctor?

Most of the signs and symptoms explained above are mild and short lived. Teething pain should be easily managed and not prolonged. If you ever feel that things go beyond “reasonably normal” it is important to seek evaluation from a doctor. Please consult your child’s pediatrician if:

  • If your baby is having a high fever
  • If your baby has vomiting or diarrhea
  • If the baby is not getting soothed despite all the reasonable efforts to  manage teething pain

How do health-care professionals assess teething?

The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Dental Association all recommend a first dental visit at age one. Visiting a pediatric dentist is another great resource for your teething questions.

Your child’s pediatric dentist  can help determine if teething symptoms are within acceptable limits or the child requires further evaluation.

Sometimes infants can be in discomfort from infections in their mouth such as thrush or herpetic gingivostomatitis. A pediatric dentist will assess an infant’s mouth to determine whether the symptoms come from tooth eruption or a more serious problem such as infection or tooth decay.  Oral health is critical to your child’s health. Learn more about baby tooth care.