Do Babies get a Temperature from Teething?

wiseGEEK Writer

The issue of whether babies get a temperature from teething is highly contested, and there is not a complete consensus. Many parents do note a slight increase in a baby’s temperature, especially in the day or two before a tooth breaks through, but some physicians argue that this is coincidental. No matter which side of the fence a person stands, it is abundantly clear that babies should not get a high temperature from teething. Anything above 100 degrees F (37.78), or some doctors say above 101 F (38.33), likely indicates another illness and warrants the attention of a physician.

Signs a baby is teething include excessive drooling, fussiness and possibly a slight increase in body temperature.
Signs a baby is teething include excessive drooling, fussiness and possibly a slight increase in body temperature.

There is an extensive history of believing that a temperature from teething is normal. It reaches back to Aryuvedic and Ancient Greek medical beliefs, and it pervades medical philosophy well into the late 19th century. Teething was frequently viewed as a process that was not normal development and that could instead cause illness or even death. Rather than understanding that a variety of illnesses and infections were likely responsible for baby deaths, physicians through the 19th century might attribute some infant deaths to teething.

Children may develop a harmless cough while teething.
Children may develop a harmless cough while teething.

Though less common, this failure in the present day to recognize that children can teethe and be ill concurrently can delay treatment. As long as parents believe that a high temperature from teething is normal and that the two have to be related, they may fail to get care for children who need it. Since infants and toddlers are more vulnerable and have fewer reserves than do older kids and adults, failure to treat is problematic and potentially risky for the child. While a mild fever occurring at the same time teething occurs may be related and is less concerning from a health perspective, parents are cautioned to never make the assumption that a higher fever is necessarily teething-based.

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It's important to consult a physician when a child has a fever, even if the temperature is later deemed harmless.
It's important to consult a physician when a child has a fever, even if the temperature is later deemed harmless.

The guidelines on when to call a doctor about fever are more specific and depend on child age, and even if a parent thinks it is temperature from teething, they should try to follow them. An infant up to three months old, who may teeth early, should be seen by a doctor if fever is 100.4 F (38 C) or higher. For three to six month-old babies, parents should call doctors about any fever of 101-102 F (38.33-38.89 C) or above. Parents should call sooner if other symptoms are present like vomiting, strong cough, severe congestion, evidence of ear infection, listlessness, or extreme sleepiness.

Teething babies may cry excessively.
Teething babies may cry excessively.

Even if a doctor can offer no explanation and ultimately concludes that it is temperature from teething, parents can then be certain they’re providing adequate hydration for kids. They can also remain vigilant and be observant of any change for the worse. Most importantly, consultation or visit with a doctor buys peace of mind. It helps rule out the serious illnesses that can affect infants, whether or not they are teething.

Some physicians contend that an increase in a baby's temperature during teething is merely coincidental.
Some physicians contend that an increase in a baby's temperature during teething is merely coincidental.
It is not uncommon for teething babies to also develop a fever.
It is not uncommon for teething babies to also develop a fever.

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Discussion Comments

Heavanet

Whether teething causes babies to have elevated temperatures or not, it is a good idea to take their temperatures frequently during this time in their lives. Monitoring it will help parents know if there are any problems, such as infections, that need to be addressed.

Either a digital thermometer or an ear thermometer are both good choices for parents who want to monitor their children's temperatures. Old-fashioned thermometers that contain mercury should never be used, because they can be very dangerous if they break in a baby's mouth.

Ocelot60

My children always had elevated body temperatures from teething pain. I think it had a lot to do with the stress and pain of the teeth breaking through the gums.

Cool compresses and baby teething gel always helped to keep their temperatures low and their gums from hurting too badly.

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