Teething Myths Revealed

For generations, a host of symptoms and behaviors have been attributed to infant teething. It is not unusual for parents to wonder if crankiness, diarrhea, drooling, diaper rashes and trouble sleeping are related to teething, illness or a normal phase of development.

A recent analysis of the medical literature related to teething found that teething causes babies to rub their gums, be a little crankier and drool more.  This conclusion was the result of of a meta-analysis, published in March 2016 in the journal,Pediatrics, where over one thousand citations from researchers around the world regarding teething were studied.  The researches then narrowed down the citations to 22 studies from eight different countries to concentrate on.  The children in the studies ranged from birth to age 3 years.  The authors, led by Carla Massignan, DDS, concluded gum irritation, irritability and drooling were the main manifestations of infant teething.  A key finding is that while some infants have a slight rise in their temperature, it was not up to 100.4 degrees F, the standard cut off for a fever.  Based on their meta-analysis, the authors concluded teething does not cause a full-fledged fever or any other sign of actual illness.  Now, based on the research, lets look at some of the myths and facts surrounding teething:

MYTH - Teething causes fever

FACT - If an infant’s rectal temperature rises to 100.4 degrees F or higher this is not due to teething.  This is an important distinction because at the age infants are teething, signs of illness can be non-specific.  Fever is an important sign that an infant is fighting an infection and should be evaluated, and not be dismissed as teething.

MYTH - Teething causes appetite loss and diarrhea

FACT – An infant’s interest in eating, and the consistency of their stools, can often vary day to day, but appetite loss and diarrhea that does not go quickly go away should not be attributed to teething.  If your infant is eating less or has diarrhea more than a day or two, please call us so we determine if we need to see your child or if there are any other steps to take.   Of course, if your infant is eating less, had diarrhea and a fever (rectal temperature of 100.4 or higher, do not wait, these symptoms warrant a phone call, not observation!)