This page will help describe the common teething symptoms and signs. We’ll also point out those signs and symptoms that can often be put down, incorrectly, to teething. It’s important to be vigilant to other illnesses that may occur at the same time as teething!
General Symptoms of Teething
In general, teething babies can be more irritable and ‘out of sorts’ when compared to normal. Often symptoms will begin 3-5 days prior to the tooth erupting. Any teething symptoms tend to subside once the offending tooth has erupted into the mouth. The back (molar) teeth may cause more problems as they are larger and not so pointy, hence can cause more irritation to the gum as they poke through. Many babies (and lucky parents!) appear to get through teething fairly easily, displaying no symptoms as the teeth erupt! See our page on baby tooth order for help on when you can expect these problems with your child!
Specific Teething Symptoms
Some of the more specific teething symptoms include:
- Your baby may chew or bite down on toys, fingers or anything they can get their hands on! Be careful about what your baby puts in their mouth, to avoid any risk of choking.
- They may refuse food and drink as a reaction to the sore gums.
- Sleep disruption. This in itself can cause more irritability and upset for your baby than the teething!
- Increased drooling. This may lead to a “teething rash” on the babies face or chin.
- Redness of the gum above the erupting tooth, as a result of inflammation which also causes the pain.
- Mild increase in body temperature (but not a proper ‘fever’ in medical terms).
As teething symptoms are usually mild and get better themselves, they are nothing to worry about. Do seek medical advice if the symptoms persist or worsen significantly.
Watch out for misdiagnosing symptoms!
If your baby is unwell, do not automatically assume it is due to teething. The following symptoms are generally not associated with teething:
- Fever, above 100-101F. This will usually be due to an infection (often viral) which just happens to be present at the same time as the teeth are coming through.
- Diarrhea. Again there can be many causes of this in babies, but there is no evidence that an erupting tooth is a factor.
- Cold-like symptoms of runny nose and coughs. As these are so common in babies, there can often be sniffles and coughing at the same time as teeth coming through. Again, this is coincidental rather than caused by an erupting tooth.
- Rashes on the body, not just around the mouth area. As noted above a rash may occur around the lips due to drooling. But rashes elsewhere should not be put down to tooth eruption.
- Symptoms that last more than a few days usually indicate some other health problem and not teething.
So be vigilant. If your baby demonstrates any of these symptoms, again do not assume it is due to teething. Seek medical advice for a proper diagnosis.