Teething is the normal process of new teeth working their way through the gums. The only symptoms proven to be associated with teething are increased saliva, drooling and a desire to chew on everything. Teething occasionally causes mild gum pain, but not enough to interfere with sleep, and probably not enough to cause any crying.
Since teething goes on almost continuously between 6 months and 2 years of age, many unrelated illnesses have been blamed on it. Teething does not cause fever, and if your child has fever, it’s due to an infection. Teething does not cause sleep problems, diarrhea, diaper rash, or lowered resistance to infections.
Let’s talk treatment:
- First: Massage the gums with a finger. Find the irritated or swollen gum. Massage it with your finger for 2 minutes. Do this as often as necessary. If you wish, you may use a piece of ice wrapped in a wet cloth to massage the gum.
- Second: Infants massage their own gums by chewing on smooth, hard objects. Offer a teething ring or teether that has been chilled in the refrigerator, but not frozen in the freezer. A piece of chilled banana may help. Avoid ice or popsicles that could cause frostbite of the gums. Avoid hard foods that could cause choking. For example, raw carrots should never be used for teething because they can be inhaled into the lungs and cause death.
- Third: If your infant refuses nipple-feedings, use a cup temporarily.
- Fourth: If the pain increases, give acetaminophen orally for 1 day. Special teething gels are unnecessary and may cause allergic reactions. If you want to use one, don’t apply it more than 4 times a day because of the risk of overdosage.
- Finally: There is no teething monster. If your child is acting sick, it’s not due to teething.
If you have other questions about teething, call your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to 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. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 7/1/2005
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.