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Children's Symptoms > Mouth / Teeth / Throat Symptoms > Teething
Teething

DEFINITION

  • Questions about teething, the normal process of new primary teeth working their way through the gums
  • Teeth come in between 6 and 24 months of age
  • Caution: At least one tooth should be visible before using this topic

Symptoms

  • Main symptoms are increased saliva, drooling and desire to chew on things.
  • Occasional symptoms: mild gum pain.  Usually, not enough to cause crying or interfere with sleep.
  • 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 ear infections, urinary tract infections, meningitis and other infections.
  • Caution: Blaming teething for crying can lead to a delayed diagnosis of ear infections or other causes of pain.
  • There are 2 reasons for the onset of infections between 6 and 12 months of age: The loss of transplacental antibodies and the developmental milestone of chewing on everything.

See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If


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 and you don't think your child needs to be seen

HOME CARE ADVICE FOR TEETHING

  1. Reassurance:  
    • Teething is a natural process.  
    • It's harmless and it may cause a little gum pain.
    • It doesn't cause fever or crying. If present, look for another cause.
  2. Gum Massage:  
    • Find the irritated or swollen gum.  
    • Massage it with your finger for 2 minutes.  
    • Do this as often as necessary.  
    • Putting pressure on the sore gum can reduce pain.
    • Age over 12 months: You may use a piece of ice wrapped in a wet cloth to massage the gum.
  3. Teething Rings:
    • Infants massage their own sore gums by chewing on smooth, hard objects.
    • Offer a teething ring, pacifier or wet washcloth that has been chilled in the refrigerator, but not frozen in the freezer.  
    • Age over 12 months: A piece of chilled banana may help.
    • Avoid hard foods that could cause choking (e.g., raw carrots).
    • Avoid ice or popsicles that could cause frostbite of the gums.
  4. Cup Feeding:  If your infant refuses nipple feedings, use a cup, spoon or syringe temporarily.
  5. Pain Medicine: If the pain increases, give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) orally for 1 day. Special teething gels are not recommended (FDA 2011). They can cause allergic reactions, choking or bluish skin.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Develops unexplained crying
    • Develops fever
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.


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: 9/15/2011

Last Revised: 1/28/2012

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker

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


Additional Resources:

 How to use the Adult Health Topics pages
 When to call the doctor
 Reviewers of Clinical Content

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 for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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