In February of 2016, Dr. Paul Casamassimo (director of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Pediatric Oral Health and Research and Policy Center) was interviewed by CNN regarding a common misconception that, along with crankiness, problems sleeping and eating, and near-constant drooling, fever is an indication of teething. Because many parents of our NYC pediatric dental patients have teething infants, I hope you’ll find the information below to be helpful.
Is a Fever a Symptom of Teething?
An analysis in the journal, Pediatrics, shows that, while some children might have a low-grade fever, a temp over 101 degrees F should be cause for concern. Furthermore, while it’s common for teething infants to eat and/or drink less due to discomfort, if those symptoms, with or without a high-grade fever, persist more than 3-5 days, a trip to the pediatrician is in order. According to Casamassimo, “If a child has a really high fever, or is in significant discomfort, or won’t eat or drink anything for days, that’s a red flag for concern. By and large, symptoms…come and go, and the job of the parent is to comfort the child, and keep their finger on the pulse of their child.”
Teething Treatments to Avoid
While you may wish to give your child oral pain relievers, it’s important to know that the sugar in those medications increases the risk of tooth decay and, worse, research shows that repeated doses of Tylenol can cause liver damage in children. While some parents have chosen to use topical anesthetics (such as Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Orabase), I caution you against their use, as these products contain Lidocaine and benzocaine, proven as unsafe for the very young. (See this article from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration).
Teething is Trying but Normal
Every child must go through teething and their parent(s) must go through it with them. Although it’s a trying experience for all concerned, it’s short-lived and requires no extraordinary measures beyond teething rings and/or a cold washcloth along with lots of comforting.
When to See the Pediatrician
If your child goes more than 3 days with greatly decreased food and/or liquid intake, or has a fever of 101 F or higher, see your pediatrician. Although your little one may well be teething, it’s highly likely that the high temp is due to something else that requires immediate treatment.