Is it true that teething causes fever? Learn what experts have to say about it here.
What can you read in this article?
Once your baby enters the four- to seven-month-old period, you might notice that they will start acting a little different. They might seem more irritable than usual, drool a lot, or appear unmotivated to eat.
- Teething symptoms
- Can teething cause fever and diarrhea? Here’s what a pedia thinks
- How to break a “teething” fever
Usually, these are just well-known signs of teething. However, one of the more concerning signs of this period is when teething causes fever.
Whenever our baby’s temperature rises, one of the usual culprits, especially of elders, is teething. “Nagngingipin lang ‘yan,” they would say. But is it true that teething causes fever in babies?
How will I know if my baby is teething or not?
Not all babies develop the same, and each child may show different signs of teething. Certain babies show no signs, while other babies fuss a lot. Still, there are a few teething symptoms that you could watch out for:
- Excessive drooling
- Being much more irritable or picky than normal
- Wailing and crying more often
- If they begin biting on teething rings or solid items and won’t let go
If you notice any of these, it likely means that their front teeth have started to grow. Symptoms tend to worsen between their sixth and 16th months.
Can teething cause fever or diarrhea?
The answer is simple: it depends on how serious the fever is. A slight increase in body temperature is likely because of teething, while a fever over 38 degrees probably means that your little one is ill.
But why does fever usually accompany teething in babies? A study from the Journal Paediatrics found out that there were inconsistencies in research. Some studies reported fever to be a clear sign of teething, whereas others didn’t notice anything.
Interestingly, however, there is a link joining multiple eruption of teeth, and fever. Researchers speculate that the increased stress on a baby’s body due to teething could result in weaker immune systems, thereby letting in illnesses and fever.
Still, in their conclusion, the authors did declare that it’s normal for your baby to have a tiny increase in temperature when they’re teething – but it’s not fever. It’s dangerous to assume that teething alone causes fever because you can overlook more serious underlying diseases.
Does teething cause sickness? Here it straight from a pediatrician
According to Dr. Maria Belen Vitug-Sales, apediatrician from the Makati Medical Center, while it is true that teething does cause a baby’s temperature to rise, it is not the main cause of fever, diarrhea or illness in babies.
Instead, her theory is that it’s not the teething per se, but what the baby puts in his mouth that is causing the infection.
“My theory is that when babies are teething, when the tooth starts to come around 6 to 7 months, to soothe the pain or the discomfort, anything they can reach, they put in their mouths.
And they like biting with everything, nanggigil na sila. Maybe because their gums are swollen and they are in pain.
The fact that they put everything in their mouth gives them a risk of getting bacteria there and they may get diarrhea. So it’s not because of the tooth, but it can coincide at the same time.” she explained.
Also, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the moment teething starts, the passive immunity that the child got from his mother’s womb also drops, which is why he is now more susceptible to bacteria and virus.
It can also get more confusing for parents as some of the common signs of teething — like irritability, being disinterested in feeding, and being unable to sleep — can also mean that your baby might have contracted an illness.
It might not be easy to tell at first glance, but the following symptoms should serve as a red flag:
- blocked or drippy noses
- watery or liquid stools
- a skin rash
When you notice these warning signs, don’t hesitate to bring your child to the doctor, as this is not just caused by teething and may need a more accurate diagnosis and additional treatment.
In addition, when your child starts eating solids, you should start on his oral hygiene as well. Clean his mouth and gums after eating, and make sure that his hands are always clean as babies are more prone to putting their hands in their mouth during this time.
Teething causes fever, but only a slight increase in body temperature. Having a rash is a red flag for all sorts of other serious illnesses, so please visit a doctor if your little one shows such skin abnormalities. | Image Source: Stock Photo
Baby teething fever, how long?
While we’ve established that it’s not teething that causes fever, there’s still the issue of the rise in temperature. In general, the increase in temperature can start a day before the tooth starts to erupt. And if there is no infection, your baby’s temperature would probably normalize on its own within a couple of days.
How to break a teething fever?
However, if your baby still feels fussy and slightly feverish, you can consult his pediatrician and ask if you can give a pain reliever (like paracetamol) to lower the baby’s temperature and help soothe the discomfort from teething.
What can I do to calm my teething baby?
So you’ve checked with the pediatrician and concluded that maybe your baby isn’t ill. It’s just a case of him growing teeth. Is there a way to help your baby in this difficult but important stage? We’ve come up with a short and handy guide to help:
Do apply pressure onto their gums, by…
- washing your hands and rubbing the gums
- letting your little one bite a rubber teething ring that’s been cooled (but not chilled or frozen!) in the fridge
- using a moist washcloth (cooled in the fridge, too) if you happen to be missing a teething ring.
- Let the teething ring become too cold. Yes, cold objects do help to soothe your baby – but not if they are extremely cold. In fact, frozen teething rings:
- can actually harm your little one’s gums!
- can risk the ring bursting open and leaking its contents.
- Massage your little one’s gums with gels or give them teething tablets. That’s because:
- they don’t always soothe the baby.
- some products may contain belladonna (a toxic plant) or benzocaine (a chemical that helps to numb gums). Both can be damaging to your little one. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration in the US also explains that it’s possible both active ingredients could reduce oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
- Give your little one ibuprofen unless they are at least six months old or a pediatrician says so. These medicines might help to soothe the pain from teething, but ibuprofen is a strong medicine, which could lead to some undesirable effects. There have been cases of babies being allergic to ibuprofen. You can opt for baby paracetamol, but if you are worried or are unsure, it‘s best to always best to ask a medical professional first.
When should I visit the doctor?
As mentioned before, if your baby is irritable, it could mean that they’re either sick or teething. There are, however, some clear signs that you should bring your child to a pediatrician. Do consult your pediatrician if your child:
- is below three months of age* and is suffering from a fever of 38 degrees Celsius or higher.
- is older than three months and has a temperature that reads 39 degrees Celsius on the thermometer.
- remains feverish after a day.
- passes watery stools, vomits, or sports rashes.
- appears drowsy or ill.
- doesn’t calm down no matter what you do.
Your baby growing their first set of teeth (and when teething causes fever) may be annoying for both you and your baby. But don’t forget that teething is just a period of development – it won’t last forever.
*Disclaimer: If you see any rise in temperature in babies under 3-months-old, please don’t hesitate to consult a pediatrician.
Republished with permission from The Asian Parent Singapore
Paediatrics Journal, WebMD
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