The process through which the teeth of a child erupt through the gums is teething. This can lead to a number of symptoms, including mild fussiness and discomfort.
Several parents and caregivers say that fever is a symptom of teething as well. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.
Fever might well coincide with teething, but it likely signifies a separate health problem, such as an infection.
This article identifies some explanations why teething and fever can happen together. As well as those that are not, we also outline the signs associated with teething. Ultimately, we give advice about how to alleviate teething pain, how to treat a fever, and when to see a doctor.
Can teething cause a fever?
Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) warns that fever is a symptom of infection rather than a result of teething. When the child is 6-12 months of age, these infections usually occur more frequently. It coincides with the age when most kids start teething.
There are two key reasons why teething and infections happen at comparable times:
- Increased exposure to new pathogens: At 6–12 months of age, the infant is sucking and chewing various objects as they explore their world by putting things in their mouth. This exposes them to new pathogens.
- Loss of antibodies: When infants are 6–12 months old, they begin to lose antibodies that their mother transfers to them during birth. This means their immune system has to respond to more infections, such as colds.
Fever may occur at the same time as teething, to summarize. However, fever, rather than a typical symptom of teething, is a sign of infection.
The definition of fever in infants depends in part on their age and the method used for taking their temperature. As below, medical professionals describe fever:
- Infants younger than 3 months of age: Fever is a temperature of 100.4oF (38oC) and higher.
- Older infants and children: Fever is a temperature of 101.2oF (38.4oC) and higher.
At around 6 months of age, most babies begin teething. Some babies, however, can begin as early as 4 months, while some begin teething as late as 12 months.
Once the first set of teeth comes in, every few months, children can begin to get new teeth.
Some symptoms babies may experience during teething are described below.
Doctors believe that when teething, some babies feel slight gum pain. It causes a crack in the gum when the tooth erupts from the gum-line. This gum pain may be due to the freshly damaged gum getting into the bacteria.
However, because babies do not clearly say that their gums are hurt, doctors can not conclude that gum pain is caused by teething.
Crying and irritability
Mild gum pain and discomfort in some babies can cause irritability. This may, in fact, lead to a rise in crying.
SCH notes, however, that teething pain does not cause unnecessary crying. An illness or other underlying problem may signal this amount of crying.
Symptoms not associated with teething
Some signs of illness may be misunderstood by a parent or caregiver as common teething symptoms.
Some symptoms that are not associated with teething include:
- extensive rash
- excessive crying
It is possible that a child displaying all of these signs is unwell. A parent or caregiver should take them to see a doctor as soon as possible if they have particularly severe symptoms.
How to soothe sore gums
To help ease the teething pain of their child, parents and caregivers should try the following strategies:
- Nursing: Continuing to breastfeed the infant may help soothe them.
- Rubbing the gums: Use a clean finger to apply gentle pressure to the gums.
- Giving them something safe to chew on: A firm rubber teething ring may help ease teething discomfort. People should avoid offering liquid-filled teething rings because they can break, causing the liquid to leak into the infant’s mouth. A person should never leave their infant alone with any teething toy, as there is a risk they may choke on them.
- Asking a doctor for advice: If other remedies are not effective, talk to a doctor about over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Never give aspirin to an infant.
Teething treatments to avoid
Some strategies for teething pain that should be avoided by parents and caregivers are below.
Frozen teething rings
Some teething rings come with fridge chilling instructions. While this is fine, people should not chill them in the freezer. The gums of an infant may be harmed by a frozen teething ring.
Teething creams and gels
The American Pediatrics Academy warns against using topical numbing creams and gels on the gums of an infant. As they wash away quickly, these items are ineffective. Some also contain components that can damage red blood cells, likely poisoning and even kill a baby.
Teething beads, bracelets, or necklaces
Some parents think teething necklaces in amber minimize teething pain. They claim they release succinic acid, which eases inflammation. There is no evidence for this, however. The amounts of succinic acid required for inflammation reduction are far higher than could be released by amber beads.
Amber beads are also dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) cautioned parents in 2018 that the beads could break and cause babies to choke. Teething bracelets and beads are dangerous for the same reason, while necklaces can also strangle babies.
How to treat a fever
A fever is a sign of an illness or disease being fought by the body. As such, it is not the fever itself that needs medical attention, but the underlying problem.
Texas Children’s Hospital, however, urges parents and caregivers to treat a fever that makes it unpleasant for their infant. They recommend the following remedies:
- offering an age- and weight-appropriate dose of acetaminophen, which people can determine by first consulting a doctor
- dressing an infant lightly, to avoid trapping excess body heat
- ensuring the infant drinks plenty of fluids
When to see a doctor
When a child is less than 3 months old and has a fever of 100.4 ° F (30 ° C ) or higher, call a doctor immediately.
If a child is older than 3 months of age and displays any of the following signs, people should also call a doctor right away:
- inconsolable crying
- difficulty awakening
- unexplained rash
- severe vomiting or diarrhea
- weakness or lethargy
- a fever that repeatedly rises to 104°F (40°C) or higher
Teething is not harmful. In about 8 days, it resolves on its own. Infants with signs of teething will usually feel some discomfort for 5 days before their teeth erupt, and for another 3 days after they appear.
However, babies teethe several times during their first few years of life. As such, finding a way to treat teething symptoms may be helpful for parents and caregivers.
All babies go through different stages of teething. Some may not experience any symptoms, while others can feel pain. These symptoms may last just over a week.
Fever is not a teething symptom. Rather, it may indicate an infection or disease. At about the same time as they begin teething, babies start to develop infections and fever. This may be why some parents and caregivers mistakenly believe that fever is a sign of teething.
A child who develops a fever may need to see a doctor, particularly if other signs or symptoms of the disease are seen.