Can Teething Cause Fever?

Article at a Glance:

  • There is a common misconception that teething causes fever
  • According to history, teething was thought to be the cause of death in infants!
  • There may be an underlying issue for why your baby is experiencing a fever, unrelated to teething.

While fever has long been an associated symptom of teething, numerous studies and credible medical bodies have discredited the theory.

Survey statistics show that 75% of parents, 83% of nurses, and 64% of pediatric dentists still believe that teething and fever have a relationship with each other.

Due to the limitations in educating the public about human and baby physiology, baby teething has perpetuated many myths regarding signs, symptoms, and the evolution of baby teething. It has been a widespread myth that baby teething can cause fevers.

Baby Teething Myths and Legends

There are a few great examples of baby teething misconceptions that occurred in history. Famous Greek physician, Hippocrates, believed teething caused symptoms such as illness, fever, convulsions and more. He named the baby teething process “dentition difficilis,” believing it was a deadly disease. Hippocrates and other philosophers at this time had agreed that this was a difficult and challenging process for infants. They theorized that teething was affecting the infant nervous system, which was so sensitive that the teething process itself resulted in illness and death. Infants who were able to survive the teething process would have a successful adulthood.

The ancient Hindus and Greeks also believed that teething attributed to illness and death. To remedy the teething symptoms in infants, medical professionals would rub baby gums with dog’s milk, hare’s brain, or colocynth root (a poisonous vine). Other remedies used included opiates, mercury salts, bromide, honey, and salt. It was also a common practice to cut the gums with a lancet.

Fortunately, these practices are outdated and have been discontinued in most, but not all places. Rest assured, there are safer and proven natural remedies to relieve baby teething symptoms and discomfort.

Studies Revealing That Teething Does Not Cause Fever

Several studies have been conducted to understand the baby teething process. Classic signs of an impending tooth eruption and the associated signs and symptoms, such as fever, vomiting, rash and diarrhea, were measured.

Study 1In this study, 125 children between the ages of 4-12 months were observed. Over the course of 6 months parents tracked their children’s daily symptoms by recording their temperature twice per day and noting the absence or presence of 18 symptoms that were listed on surveys they were provided.

As a result, the traditional teething symptoms were only seen more frequently during the 8-day teething period. Congestion, wakefulness, stool looseness and increased stools, decreased thirst, cough, rashes other than facial rashes, fever over 102°F, and vomiting were not significantly associated with tooth emergence.

Study 2: Over a six month period, the temperature of 46 babies were tracked for the 20 days before the eruption of the first tooth.

Twenty babies had a fever of 99.5 or greater on day 0, while fewer than seven babies had a fever of 99.5 or higher from day 4 to 19.

Researchers emphasized the danger of attributing fever to teething.

Study 3: This study followed 21 children between the ages of 6-24 months. These children attended 3 different daycares in Australia.

Daily temperature and symptoms were recorded from the children who participated in the study.

As a result, temperatures were similar on tooth days (the 5 days before a tooth eruption) and non-tooth days (all other days). Researchers concluded that there is a lack of correlation between temperature and teething.

Real Cause of Fever in Infants

So, if teething is not the cause of the fever, what is going on with your baby? 

The cause of fever could be related to an infection or stress response in your baby’s immune system.

Since the infant immune system is not fully developed, babies are easily vulnerable to germs and viruses. Increasing body temperature is one way to fight foreign bodies, viruses, and infections. As the baby body grows and develop, it can trigger unnecessary high fevers even when an infection is not present.

Understandably, this can alarm some parents. The best thing to do is to follow along with a baby teething chart and to watch for other symptoms that can pinpoint the presence of an actual illness, follow your doctor’s recommendations, and keep your baby comfortable.


Misconceptions Between Parents and Baby Teething Fevers

There is a famous saying, “teething only produces teeth,” which is still misunderstood by parents around the world. Even today, it is assumed that fevers, diarrhea, and vomiting are associated with baby teething.

Many studies around the world have been conducted to find a connection between baby teething and parental awareness.

In a few studies, parents from Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Australia were asked to answer a structured questionnaire regarding baby teething (Awareness of parents toward teething). In all three studies, parents were held to their own opinions of baby teething and were unaware of the teething myths and realities.

With unawareness of the teething realities, parents can easily dismiss an issue that could be more serious unrelated to teething. Although teething remedies and practices have changed over time, a misdiagnosis could mean the life of a patient. Evidence from the use of analgesics has had this type of impact.

The Relationship Between Teething, Fever, Diarrhea, and Vomiting

Vomiting combined with a high fever is more likely related to a virus than a baby teething symptom. Make sure to keep your baby comfortable and well-hydrated while they are experiencing a fever. If your baby is still experiencing fever for 3-4 days and the symptoms are not subsiding, schedule an appointment with a pediatric doctor.

Vomiting, diarrhea, and a high fever are not teething symptoms and should not be treated as such. If your child has an emerging tooth while also suffering diarrhea and high fever, there may be an underlying issue unrelated to teething. In about 98% of cases where a teething baby is vomiting, babies were also experiencing other issues unrelated to teething.

The symptoms should be treated separately and monitored to rule out a serious illness.

To ease the aches and symptoms that babies experience during teething, such as sore gums, try various natural teething remedies such as a chilled, all-natural teething toy from Kute Keiki that provides safe and soothing relief for your growing little one.