It is a widespread myth that teething can cause fever.
Due to lack of knowledge and lack of technological advances, human and baby physiology has perpetuated many myths about teething in babies.
For example, ancient Hindus and Greeks thought that teething caused fever and illness, and Hippocrates believed teething caused symptoms such as loose stools, itching, fever, and more.
None of these symptoms are accurately attributed to teething.
One of the most extreme myths in history is that teething is a cause of death, which is not true.
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 either other.
While fever has long been an associated symptom of teething, numerous studies and credible medical bodies have discredited the theory.
Studies Revealing That Teething Does Not Cause Fever
Several studies have been conducted to try and figure out what is really going on when babies start teething and experience symptoms such as fever, vomiting, rash, or diarrhea, while also exhibiting classic signs of an impending tooth eruption.
Study 1: Over the course of 6 months (from 4 months of age until 12 months, but can also be said for teething 3-month-old), the parents of 125 children tracked their children’s daily symptoms by recording their temperature twice per day and noting the absence or presence of 18 symptoms.
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 from 6 months until 24 months of age who attended three different daycares in Australia.
Daily temperature and symptoms were recorded.
Temperatures were similar on toothdays (the 5 days before a tooth eruption) and non-tooth days (all other days), showing 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?It is most likely an infection or stress response causing the fever. The normal body temperature is 98 degrees to 100.3 degrees F, but most infants can tolerate temperatures up to 102.2 with just a small amount of discomfort.
Infections can happen easily in growing toddlers because their immune systems have not developed enough to be able to fight germs and viruses at a consistent rate. Body temperature is one of the ways their bodies get rid of an infection. However, a growing babies body is not as finely tuned as an adult body, and it can trigger unnecessary high fevers even when an infection is not present.
Understandably, this can alarm some parents. The best thing you can 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.
The Relationship Between Teething, Fever, Diarrhea, and Vomiting
Vomiting combined with a high fever usually means your baby has a virus. As long as you are able to keep them comfortable and well-hydrated, it is ok to wait 3-4 days to see if the symptoms subside before seeing your 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, it is a pure coincidence. In about 98% of cases where a teething baby is vomiting, it is also just a coincidence. 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 silicone teething toy from Kute Keiki that provides safe and soothing relief for your growing little one.