Teething  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Questions about teething
  • Teething is the normal process of new teeth working their way through the gums
  • Teeth come in between 6 and 24 months of age
  • Caution: At least one tooth should be seen before using this care guide

If not, see these topics
When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Normal teething
Causes & Health Information

Symptoms

  • Main symptoms are increased saliva, drooling, face rash and desire to chew on things.
  • Sometimes, can cause mild gum pain.  Most often, not enough discomfort to cause crying or keep from sleeping.
  • Does not cause fever, diarrhea, diaper rash, ill appearance or lowered resistance to infection.
  • Caution: Blaming teething for fevers can lead to a delayed diagnosis of other infections. Examples are ear infections, urinary tract infections and meningitis.
  • Caution: Blaming teething for crying can lead to a delayed diagnosis of other illnesses. Examples are ear infections or other causes of pain.
  • There are 2 reasons why infections start between 6 and 12 months of age. One is the loss of antibodies transferred to baby from the mother at birth. The other is the developmental milestone of chewing on everything.
CARE ADVICE FOR TEETHING

  1. What You Should Know:  
    • Teething is a natural process.  
    • It's harmless and it may cause a little gum pain.
    • The main symptoms of teething are drooling and rubbing the gums.
    • It does not cause fever or crying. If these are present, look for another cause.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Gum Massage:  
    • Find the irritated or swollen gum.  
    • Rub it with your finger for 2 minutes.  
    • Do this as often as needed.  
    • Putting pressure on the sore gum can decrease pain.
    • Age over 12 months. You can use a piece of ice wrapped in a wet cloth to rub the gum.
  3. Teething Rings:
    • Babies rub their own sore gums by chewing on smooth, hard objects.
    • Offer a teething ring, pacifier or wet washcloth that has been chilled. Chill these items in the fridge. Do not use items frozen in the freezer.  
    • Age over 12 months. A piece of chilled banana may help.
    • Do not use hard foods that could cause choking. An example is a raw carrot.
    • Do not use ice or popsicles that could cause frostbite of the gums.
  4. Cup Feeding:
    •  If your baby refuses nipple feedings, try a cup.
    • A spoon or syringe can also be used for a short time as needed.
  5. Pain Medicine:
    • Pain medicines usually are not needed for the mild discomfort of teething.
    • Fussiness often gets better with gum massage. If not, you can give acetaminophen OR ibuprofen as needed. See Dose Table. Just do this for one or two days. (Reason: Frequent use can cause liver or kidney damage).
    • Special teething gels: Not advised. They are not approved by the FDA until after 2 years old. Reason: Teething gels contain benzocaine. They can cause choking, allergic reactions and other side effects. Also, teething gels only give brief pain relief.
  6. What to Expect:
    • Most often, teething does not cause any symptoms.
    • If your child is having some discomfort, it should pass in 2 or 3 days.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Crying occurs
    • Fever occurs
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/13/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.