Pinpointing and Treating a Teething Fever

A teething fever can be just the thing to push parents from annoyance to worry. Although teething is a process that we all go through as infants, most of us grown-ups are lucky enough not to remember what the ordeal was like. Unfortunately, as parents, all we can do is give sympathy cuddles and offer small measures of comfort to our teething children. Huge tears, piercing wails, incessant chewing and drooling, and all-around moodiness are just a few of the behaviors that we can expect from our teething infants, but how do we know when a visit to the doctor is necessary?

There are many signs of teething that are pretty universal, although not all of these symptoms may be present in your child. Children, just like adults, are unique. The way a child handles pain depends a lot on his/her individual threshold for pain and how many teeth come in at once. Some children have a few terrible weeks of pain and moodiness, and then suddenly they’ve got four pearly whites popping up, quickly followed by the rest. Other children may only sprout one tooth at a time but experience random moodiness over a period of several weeks.

You may notice that your little one has lost his taste for solid foods. He might also seem to be putting everything he can get his hands on into his mouth; and if nothing can be found, his little fist can be seen rubbing against his gums. Because of the excessive drooling and rubbing things against his gums, he may also develop a rash on his face, particularly around his mouth and chin. The pain may also wake him up in the middle of the night, which may mean an erratic nighttime schedule until his chompers finally arrive.

In most cases, these symptoms start to show up a few days before a tooth breaks the skin, and sometimes a few days afterward as well. On the day that a tooth is due to erupt, your little one may run what’s called a “teething fever”. This is a low-grade fever that is considered quite common during infancy. With all of your infant’s efforts going into breaking in his new teeth, his immune system may not be on the ball, in which case this low fever may be working to fight off any minor infections.

If your child’s teething fever runs over 101 degrees F, you should probably consider calling the doctor. Fevers over 102 degrees are not usually associated with teething. Your child could in fact be experiencing the beginnings of an illness such as a bacterial or viral infection. A fever over 103 should warrant an appointment within a few hours, and anything over 104 is considered a high fever and should be treated immediately.

There are a few things that you can do to ease your child’s teething pain as well as bring down his fever. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Children’s Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Children’s Motrin) can help in reducing your child’s pain. You may also want to consider Children’s Orajel, which is a numbing gel that can be applied to the gums. Be very careful not to apply this too often—go by the instructions. Orajel is best used on the day the tooth is likely to break the surface of the gums.

As an alternative to medications, try chilling a small metal spoon. This used to work for your great, great grandma, and it will work for you, too! Give your little one the cold (not frozen!) spoon and let him gnaw on it to his heart’s content. You can also use a cold teething ring for the same effect. The temperature will provide a natural numbing effect to the gums and provide temporary pain relief. If your infant is old enough, a popsicle is another good remedy for numbing the gums, as is a frozen washcloth.

As for bringing down your baby’s fever naturally, try giving him a lukewarm (not cold!) bath. This will help him release a little bit of the extra heat and make him more comfortable. You should also make it a point not to over-dress your infant. Even a teething fever can make your little one uncomfortable. Dress him in clothing that will allow the excess heat to escape and only use light blankets at night time.

A teething fever, as well as the other symptoms of teething can be a little scary, especially for a first-time parent. If your baby experiences symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea in addition to a fever, it would be wise to schedule an appointment with his doctor, as these are not typical symptoms associated with teething.