Parents often attribute teething for a cranky, drooling baby who does not eat and sleep. Findings of a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, however, show that high-grade fevers are not an indication of teething, but possibly a sign of another illness that parents and doctors should not ignore.
The study identified the common symptoms of teething such as swollen gums, crankiness and drooling, but researchers said that the symptoms should not last for more than three to five days.
Paul Casamassimo, from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and not part of the study, said that parents should consider it a red flag if a child has a very high fever, won't eat or drink for days and is experiencing a significant discomfort.
"Based on the current limited evidence, there are signs and symptoms during primary tooth eruption. Gingival irritation, irritability, and drooling were the most common," the researchers wrote in their study. "For body temperature analyses, it was possible to evaluate that eruption of primary teeth is associated with a rise in temperature, but it was not characterized as fever."
Minu George, from Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York said that parents are often confused about symptoms that are related to baby's teething or illness, but advised parents that it is likely a fever and not just mild temperature increase from teething if a baby's temperature reaches at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
George said that fevers are the body's way of responding to an infection, but parents need to be aware that it is likely related to an illness.
Rosie Roldan, from Nicklaus Children's Hospital, in Miami said that babies also tend to be bombarded by infections at the age when their teeth are erupting.
She said other symptoms that should not be attributed to teething include diarrhea that does not disappear quickly and sores and blisters around the mouth. Roldan said these symptoms warrant a call to the physician.
Experts said that using teething toy or cold rag may help babies with their discomfort. Infant pain relievers may also be used, but regular use may cause tooth decay and acetaminophen can cause liver disease in children.