Teething fever has been a subject of debate for decades. But do teething cause fever? Or is it a symptom of a different disease?
These questions concern, above all, the first-time parents who, unaware of the teething process and its side effects, associate fever with the condition. But the truth is that teething doesn’t cause fever in the true meaning of the word. While a slight increase in the body temperature is common, fever is always associated with a disease evolving in parallel with teething.
Wondering how to tell the difference? Read this guide to learn the most common symptoms of teething and how to deal with them.
WHAT IS TEETHING FEVER?
For us, parents, seeing our sweet angel in pain is excruciating. But teething happens, and it doesn’t come easy. However, fever is not a symptom of teething, and more often than not, what our grandmothers call teething fever is nothing but a slight increase in the body temperature associated with the inflammation of the gums.
But what’s a slight increase in the body temperature? When you’re a desperate mom trying to alleviate your baby’s pain, anything above 98.6°F might look like fever to you. However, a rise in body temperature of no more than 99.5°F is common in teething babies.
In fact, most pediatricians don’t consider this temperature fever and they wouldn’t prescribe any fever medication at this stage.
SHOULD TEETHING FEVER CONCERN YOU?
What is improperly called teething fever shouldn’t concern you. A slight increase in the body temperature is normal. After all, the tiny teeth piercing through the gums cause inflammation, thus heat.
In fact, if you’ve experienced the pain of an emerging wisdom tooth, you might be able to understand what your baby’s going through.
However, you should see a pediatrician immediately if the fever exceeds 100.4°F. High fever has nothing to do with teething and is probably caused by a viral or bacterial infection that evolves at the same time with teething.
Because some of the symptoms are common to both teething and colds or flues, and because many new moms still believe in the myth of the teething fever, numerous illnesses could go undetected at this stage, and some of them could have serious consequences on the baby’s life.
To tell if it’s time to see the doctor, measure the baby’s temperature; keep calm and learn how to soothe the baby if the temperature is lower than 100.4°F, but make an appointment with the pediatrician immediately if the temperature exceeds this threshold.
TEETHING FEVER VS. SICKNESS: HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE
Telling the difference between teething and sickness is easier than you’d think. Yet, we do understand that most moms are too concerned to stay and analyze all symptoms.
However, your baby is probably teething is she’s crankier and fussier than usual, slightly hotter than usual, and if she’s biting and chewing on hard objects or teething toys. Excessive drooling is another common symptom associated with teething.
Because every baby is different, excessive crying may or may not be a symptom of teething, but if you notice that most of the symptoms above appear at any time during the 6 and 16 months of the baby’s life, you’re probably dealing with teething.
To tell if the baby’s teething or not, you should also learn what symptoms are never associated with the condition.
In broad terms, teething will never cause sneezing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, or a runny or stuffed nose. But a sick baby could still be cranky and have trouble with eating or sleeping. Moreover, it can even happen to have a sick and teething child, which can only make things more confusing.
However, if you notice any of the symptoms unassociated with teething, make an appointment and see the pediatrician as soon as possible. While all the symptoms above are often associated with stomach bugs or common colds, they could also be the early symptoms of more serious diseases.
HOW TO DEAL WITH TEETHING?
When teething happens, there is little you can do about it. Pediatricians rarely prescribe painkillers at such a young age, although in severe cases you might get a prescription. But in the meantime, you could alleviate your baby’s discomfort in multiple ways.
The most common way is to give the baby a teething toy. The hard rubber provides a temporary pain relief, comforting the baby for a short period of time. A tablecloth or cotton bib chilled in the refrigerator could also help in a way similar to a teething toy.
If you’ve introduced solids in the baby’s diet, and if the baby is old enough for it, ice cubes made of applesauce or other yummy ingredients can also soothe the sore gums, helping the little one deal with the issue.
Since your baby is growing teeth, a soft toothbrush can also help, when rubbed gently on the baby’s gums. Soothing apart, this process will also accustom your baby with teeth brushing, making it easier for you to implement good oral hygiene habits from an early stage.
In rare cases, a pediatrician could prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen, formulated for babies, are two of the most common medications. However, never give your baby aspirin or benzocaine.
Another thing you should be aware of is the homeopathic teething tablets and gels. Pediatricians advise against their use and, according to the FDA, these remedies could actually cause a seizure, breathing problems, and other side effects.
WHEN TO SEE A DENTIST?
The best moment to make an appointment with a dentist specialized in infantile oral care is as soon as you notice the first teething symptoms. Teeth care should begin as soon as possible, and a dentist or oral hygienist could advise you on how to soothe the baby.
Checking the growth of the teeth, and their health is also important from a young age. If you believe that seeing a dentist at such an early stage is unnecessary, the American Dental Association advises to make the first appointment when the baby’s about one year old, and in all cases, before the third birthday.