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  • The normal process of new teeth working their way through the gums
  • Questions about teething
  • 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 on the face from drooling. The drool contains little bits of food that are irritating to the skin.
  • Chewing. Increased need to chew on things.
  • 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.

When To Call

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Your child looks or acts very sick

Contact 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

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.

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.

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.
  • Avoid "teething necklaces." They are not approved by the FDA and are not helpful. They also have harmful risks including choking and death.

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.

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.

Teething Gels: Do Not Use

  • You can get special teething gels without a prescription.
  • Most have benzocaine in them. They are not approved by the FDA at any age.
  • Reason: benzocaine can cause choking, bluish skin and allergic reactions. It can be very harmful if used during the first 2 years of life.
  • Also, teething gels only give brief pain relief.
  • Gum massage works much better.

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.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • Crying occurs
  • Fever occurs
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse


Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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