A Blog From Your Kaiser Permanente Physicians

Baby teething

Teething Doesn’t Have to Cause Troubles

I often get asked, “Does teething cause a fever?”

Nope. Teething causes…teeth. It doesn’t even cause much pain – most babies just sail through teething without a problem!

Here are some other things parents want to know about teething.

Many babies get their first tooth around 6 months. Although some babies get teeth earlier, it can take up to 10 months. So don’t worry if you don’t see teeth by then. Usually the middle bottom 2 teeth pop out first, followed by the top 2 middle ones.

When a baby is teething, you’ll notice some swelling in the area. Your baby will drool and chew on things for a long time before the teeth break through their gums.

As to when kids stop teething, they only finish getting their teeth at about age 3. I used to joke with my best friend that all kinds of goofy baby behavior can be blamed on teething since it goes on so long! Bad night’s sleep? Teething. Refusal to nurse? Teething. Weird crying spell? Teething. But now I know that isn’t really true!

Some babies do seem fussier or have a harder time sleeping while teething. You can help by:   

  • Giving them a cool (but not frozen) hard rubber teething ring or washcloth to chew on.
  • Massaging their gums.
  • Using a dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Please don’t use these potentially dangerous treatments:

  • Over-the-counter teething medicines. The numbing gels can contain benzocaine, a harmful ingredient that can be fatal in the wrong amount.
  • Homeopathic teething tablets have at times contained poisonous contaminants, such as belladonna.
  • Amber beads, which have no proven effectiveness. Really, why would wearing stones help teething?! Babies have choked or been strangled by the beads when wearing them unobserved. If you choose to have your baby wear this jewelry, please take it off when you put them down alone to sleep or play.
  • Anything frozen, because it can hurt a baby’s sensitive gums.
  • Liquid-filled teething toys, which can burst and leak into a baby’s mouth.

Getting teeth doesn’t mean you’ll need to stop breastfeeding your baby! In fact, breastfeeding can help soothe a fussy, teething baby. But don’t let them get away with biting you! Watch closely for a tightening of their jaw, so before they bite you can pull them off the breast. If they clamp down while breastfeeding, break the seal, take them off the breast, and say, “No biting!” firmly. Offer a teething ring or washcloth to chew on instead. And have faith that this phase will pass quickly!

In summary, teething causes little real pain or fussiness. Teething doesn’t cause a fever (which is 100.4˚F degrees or higher). If your baby has continued fussiness or a fever, contact your doctor for advice. Ignoring these symptoms and attributing them to teething might cause you to overlook a real illness.

It’s fun to see your baby’s new toothy smile! Keep those perfect new teeth healthy by cleaning them from day one. Use a soft baby toothbrush with a tiny amount (the size of a grain of rice) of fluoridated toothpaste to brush every morning and night. Have your baby see a dentist at age one. And take lots of fun pictures of the new toothy grin!

Resources for parents
My Doctor Online

La Leche League International
Teething and Breastfeeding

American Academy of Pediatrics
Teething & Tooth Care

This article was originally published on Oct 18, 2018

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