Children's Hospital Colorado

Teething

Urgent or Emergency Care?

If you believe your child needs immediate attention and you have concerns for a life-threatening emergency, call 911. Not sure what counts as urgent and what's an emergency when your child is sick or injured? When it can't wait, know where to take your kids.

Help Me Decide

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

Proven Symptoms of Teething

Teething has been researched in-depth. Kids who are teething are little different from kids who are not teething. Here are the main symptoms that have been proven:

  • Drooling. Increased spit and drooling.
  • Rash. Face rash from drooling. The drool contains little bits of food that are irritating to the skin.
  • Chewing. Increased need to chew on things.
  • Gum Pain. Gum pain is mild and not always present. May be due to mouth germs getting into the new break in the gum. Most often, your baby just acts a little more fussy. There's not enough discomfort to cause crying. It also doesn't hurt enough to cause sleep problems.

False Symptoms of Teething

  • Teething does not cause fever, diarrhea, diaper rash or runny nose.
  • It does not cause a lot of crying.
  • It does not cause your baby to be more prone to getting sick.
  • Caution about Fevers. Blaming teething for fevers can lead to a delay in seeking care for infections. Examples are ear and urinary tract infections. Another example is meningitis.
  • 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.
  • Caution about Crying. Blaming teething for crying can lead to a delay of care for other illnesses. Examples are ear infections or other causes of pain.

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Your child looks or acts very sick

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Normal teething

Care Advice for Teething

  1. What You Should Know About Teething:
    • 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 clean 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 (Teethers):
    • 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 an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol). If age over 6 months, another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil). Just do this for one or two days. (Reason: Frequent use can cause liver or kidney damage).
  6. Teething Gels: Not Advised
    • You can get special teething gels without a prescription.
    • Most have benzocaine in them. They are not approved by the FDA until after 2 years old.
    • Reason: Benzocaine can cause choking, bluish skin and allergic reactions.
    • Also, teething gels only give brief pain relief.
    • Gum massage works much better.
  7. 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.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Crying occurs
    • Fever occurs
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied 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.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your child's doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

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By using this website, you accept the information provided herein "AS IS." Neither publishers nor the providers of the information contained herein will have any liability to you arising out of your use of the information contained herein or make any expressed or implied warranty regarding the accuracy, content, completeness, reliability, or efficacy of the information contained within this website.

Copyright 1994-2017 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC. All rights reserved.

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