Does teething cause fever or diarrhea?

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Teething in babies does not cause high fever or severe diarrhea. Teething is being incorrectly attributed to be the cause of several childhood ailments. Some of the symptoms of teething are swollen gum, decreased appetite for solid foods, irritability, drooling, rash on face, ear rubbing, gum rubbing, crying, pain, biting and sucking.

High body temperature, severe nasal discharge, persistent cough, persistent vomiting, decrease in urine output and severe diarrhea may require medical attention and are not classic symptoms of eruption of primary teeth.

In a survey of 550 parents in Udaipur, India, regarding parental beliefs about teething in babies, Gauri Kakatkar et al, found that “teething was incorrectly attributed to fever (70%), diarrhea (87.5%), and sleep disturbances (48.2%)”. The research work was published in the journal ‘Brazilian Oral Research’ in 2012 Mar-April.

R.S.Ispas et al conducted a cross-sectional survey of seven groups of health professionals in New Zealand on persisting misconceptions about signs and symptoms of teething. The research work was published in ‘the New Zealand dental journal’ in March, 2013.

The researchers concluded that one-third of participants incorrectly attributed fever to teething. 27% of participants attributed primary teeth eruption as cause of diarrhea.

These findings show that there is a common lack of knowledge about baby teething among parents as well as prevalence of misconceptions about the symptoms of teething in health professionals. There is an urgent need to educate parents regarding the teething process and its management and to dispel misconceptions about fever and diarrhea.

Some health professionals may have to update their concepts about the causes of childhood illnesses like fever and diarrhea.

Does teething cause high fever in babies?

The primary tooth eruption may give discomfort, pain and stress to the baby for a week. Four days prior to emergence of tooth and three days post-emergence are important in tooth eruption.

Teething baby
Teeth erupting in baby
Author Daniel Schwen / (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In some babies, due to stress, pain and gum inflammation, there may be slightly elevated body temperature which is considered as low-grade fever (less than 102°F). Mild fever in babies may also be due to infection in the split gum. Injuries to gum while biting on objects can also give rise to mild infection and elevated temperature and fever.

The age at which deciduous teeth erupt also coincides with the decline in antibody supply from the mother as well as exposure to infections. Parents must pay attention to any fever greater than 102°F and seek medical advice.

They should not dismiss high fever as a symptom connected with primary teeth eruption. High fever, above 102°F, may be due to some underlying serious illness.

Does teething cause severe diarrhea in babies?

Babies tend to bite or chew any object they can lay their hands on during teething. Lack of hygiene or proper parental care can lead to infections of gastrointestinal system.

Sometimes babies may injure their own gums and have infections. In such situations babies may have fever and diarrhea. Excessive salivation and swallowing the saliva may also cause mild diarrhea.

If the baby suffers from severe diarrhea, medical advice must be sought. Severe diarrhea can lead to dehydration and many health complications. Most common cause of severe diarrhea is viral gastroenteritis. Certain types of bacteria or parasites can also cause diarrhea.

If the teething baby affect by diarrhea has dry skin, dry mouth, sunken eyes or cries without tears, it is symptom of severe dehydration and immediate medical aid is required.

1.Ispas RS, Mahoney EK, Whyman RA. Teething signs and symptoms: persisting misconceptions among health professionals in New Zealand. N Z Dent J. 2013 Mar;109(1):2-5.
2.Sood S, Sood M. Teething: myths and facts. J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2010 Fall;35(1):9-13.
3.Owais, A., Zawaideh, F. and Bataineh, O. (2010), Challenging parents’ myths regarding their children’s teething. International Journal of Dental Hygiene, 8: 28–34.
4.Gauri Kakatkar, Ramesh Nagarajappa, Nagesh Bhat, Vikas Prasad, Archana Sharda, Kailash Asawa. Parental beliefs about children’s teething in Udaipur, India: a preliminary study. Braz Oral Res. 2012 Mar-Apr;26(2):151-7.
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