Teething is a normal part of your baby’s development that can sometimes cause low grade fevers. Teething itself does not directly cause fevers above 100.4°F (38°C), but the extra drool and discomfort from teething can lead to secondary symptoms that may slightly raise your baby’s temperature.
Understanding the link between teething and fevers can help parents know when to call the doctor. With the right care and treatment, most teething fevers are not a cause for concern.
Key Takeaways: Teething and Fever
- Teething itself does not cause fevers above 100.4°F (38°C). Higher fevers are likely from illness, not teething.
- Extra drool from teething can cause rashes, diarrhea, and mild fevers under 100.4°F.
- Dehydration from decreased fluid intake, chewing, and drooling may also cause low grade fever during teething.
- Teething discomfort can slightly raise babies’ temperatures up to 100.4°F. Fevers between 100.4-102°F are common with teething.
- Fevers above 102°F usually indicate infection or illness, not teething. Seek medical care for fevers over 102°F.
- Treating teething discomfort with cold teethers, Tylenol, and extra fluids can prevent fevers.
How Teething Works
Teething occurs when a baby’s first set of teeth, called primary teeth, break through the gums. Teething typically begins around 6 months old and continues until age 3 when all 20 primary teeth have emerged.
Teething happens in stages as different types of teeth come in:
- First teeth: The two bottom front teeth (central incisors) usually emerge first around 6-10 months old.
- Bottom teeth: The bottom lateral incisors, first molars, canines, and second molars come in next between 8-16 months old.
- Top teeth: The top central and lateral incisors, canines, and first molars emerge between 10-18 months old.
- Second molars: The last teeth to erupt are the upper and lower second molars that come in between 2-3 years old.
During each stage, the gums swell and become tender as the teeth push through. Teething can cause crankiness, trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, and increased chewing, drooling, and gum biting. Low grade fevers under 100.4°F are also common.
Can Teething Increase Temperature?
Teething itself does not directly cause high fevers over 100.4°F (38°C). However, the extra drool and inflammation from teething can lead to secondary symptoms that slightly raise a baby’s temperature to a low grade fever under 100.4°F.
The link between teething and mild fevers relates to:
All that extra drool from teething can cause heat rashes around the mouth, neck, and chest. Drool rashes occur when the wet skin gets chapped and irritated. The skin may turn red and feel warm to the touch.
Rashes allow bacteria to enter broken skin. This can lead to skin infections that cause low grade fevers under 100.4°F.
The excess drool can also trigger loose stools and diarrhea if your baby swallows too much saliva. Diarrhea leads to dehydration, which may cause a slight fever.
Babies produce extra drool during teething but actually drink less fluid. The discomfort makes them not want to nurse or drink as much.
Decreased fluid intake leads to dehydration, which may contribute to a mild fever during teething. Fever is a common early sign of dehydration as the body struggles to regulate temperature.
Excessive chewing and biting on teething toys also causes babies to lose fluid. Increased drool production combined with decreased fluid intake makes dehydration and fever more likely.
The tender and swollen gums caused by erupting teeth can make babies fussy and uncomfortable. The localized inflammation where new teeth are emerging may cause a slight increase in body temperature up to 100.4°F, but is not considered an actual fever.
Discomfort from teething may also interfere with sleep. Lack of sleep compromises the immune system and makes babies more vulnerable to actual fevers from illness.
A baby’s temperature naturally fluctuates throughout the day, typically ranging between 97-100°F. It’s normal for the temperature to spike a degree or two at certain times of day.
During teething, these normal fluctuations may spike just over 100.4°F at times. A mildly elevated temperature during teething is usually not dangerous if the baby otherwise seems healthy.
So while teething itself does not directly cause true fevers above 100.4°F, some related symptoms like dehydration and skin rashes can lead to low grade fevers under 100.4°F. The discomfort may also make babies more vulnerable to separate illnesses that cause true fever.
Typical Fever Ranges from Teething
Babies commonly run low fevers under 100.4°F while teething. The gums can feel warm around erupting teeth as localized inflammation increases blood flow to the area.
Here are the typical fever ranges seen with teething:
- 100-100.4°F: A slight temperature between 100-100.4°F is common during teething due to extra drool, dehydration, and discomfort. This mild fever is not considered dangerous.
- 100.4-102°F: Low grade fevers between 100.4-102°F may occur when teething. Fevers in this range are usually not serious if the baby is otherwise behaving normally.
- Over 102°F: High fevers above 102°F are not caused by teething alone. Contact your doctor for fevers over 102°F, which likely indicate infection or illness.
As a guideline, temperatures under 100.4°F are not considered medically significant fevers in babies. Fevers between 100.4-102°F are common with teething. But sustained temperatures above 102°F warrant medical evaluation for an underlying problem.
When to Seek Emergency Care
Contact your doctor right away if your teething baby has:
- A rectal temperature over 102°F
- Symptoms like lethargy, headache, neck pain or stiffness
- A fever that lasts over 24 hours without improving
- A fever that keeps rising despite medication
- A fever in a baby under 6 months old (fever workup required)
- Additional signs of illness like cough, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
Seek emergency care if your baby has:
- A rectal temperature over 104°F
- A febrile seizure from the high fever
- Trouble breathing
- Signs of dehydration like no wet diapers or crying without tears
High spiking fevers over 102°F likely indicate an infection unrelated to teething. Prompt medical treatment is needed for extremely high fevers to prevent serious complications like seizures, breathing problems, and dehydration.
Treating Teething Fever
For mild fevers under 102°F, you can provide relief at home with the following methods:
1. Use a cool teething toy
Gently rubbing swollen gums with a cool wet washcloth or chilled teething toy can soothe teething pain. The cool temperature helps reduce inflammation.
2. Try acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen
Over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil are safe for relieving teething discomfort and fever in babies over 6 months old. Follow dosage instructions.
3. Give extra fluids
Increase breastfeeding or bottle feedings to prevent dehydration. Water or breast milk in a sippy cup also helps. Avoid too much juice.
4. Dress lightly
Dress your baby in lightweight, breathable clothing to prevent overheating and help lower mild fever.
5. Use fewer blankets
Do not over bundle your baby during teething fever. Layer light blankets that are easily removable as the fever comes down.
6. Encourage rest
Make sure your baby gets enough sleep by maintaining a calming bedtime routine. Rest helps them recover.
Monitor temperature and call your doctor if the fever persists over 24 hours, becomes higher than 102°F, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms.
Preventing Teething Fevers
You can lower the risk of fever and discomfort during teething by taking these proactive steps:
- Gently rub swollen gums with clean fingers or a cold teether before teeth emerge to toughen gum tissue.
- Make sure your baby stays hydrated with sufficient breast or bottle feeding. Offer sips of cool water between meals.
- Cleanse drooly faces and necks often to prevent rashes and infection. Gently dry and apply protective ointment or cream.
- Dress your baby lightly in breathable clothing to prevent overheating.
- Use medication like Tylenol or Advil at the first sign of fever per dosage instructions.
- Distract babies with soft foods or cold teethers to chew on for pain relief.
- Maintain consistent nap and bedtime routines to ensure adequate rest.
- Keep your baby up to date on all vaccinations to lower risk of illness causing fever.
With diligent care and precaution, most babies sail through teething with minimal fever or discomfort. Call your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s teething symptoms or fever level.
Teething Fever vs. Illness: How to Tell the Difference
It can be tricky discerning whether a fever is from teething or actual illness. Here are some tips for telling the difference:
- Low grade under 102°F
- Localized warm gums at eruption sites
- No other symptoms
- Baby still active and playful
- Fever comes and goes
- Improves with teething remedies
**Illness Fever **
- Temperature over 102°F
- Widespread warmth, not just gums
- Other symptoms present like congestion, vomiting, etc.
- Baby is lethargic and cranky
- Fever persists over 24 hours
- Does not respond to teething treatment
To identify the cause, take your baby’s temperature and watch for patterns. Fevers that spike over 102°F, last for days, or are accompanied by other symptoms likely indicate sickness, not teething. Call your doctor to be evaluated.
Teething Fever FAQs
Can teething itself cause a high fever?
No, teething alone does not directly cause fevers over 100.4°F. High spiking fevers are likely from illness. But teething discomfort and extra drool can lead to low grade fevers under 100.4°F.
What temperature is considered a fever for a teething baby?
100.4°F is the standard medical cutoff for fever in babies. Temperatures between 100.4-102°F are common during teething. Fevers over 102°F warrant medical evaluation.
When should you worry about fever from teething?
Contact your doctor if the fever reaches 102°F or higher, lasts over 24 hours, is accompanied by other symptoms, or does not respond to home treatment. Seek emergency care for fevers above 104°F.
How long does teething fever last?
Teething fevers under 102°F typically resolve within 24 hours with treatment. Fevers lasting longer than 1-2 days likely have another cause like illness or infection.
Should I give my baby Tylenol for teething fever?
Tylenol (acetaminophen) is safe and effective for lowering fever and relieving teething discomfort in babies over 6 months old. Always follow dosage instructions. Ask your pediatrician if you have questions.
The Takeaway on Teething and Fever
While teething itself does not directly cause high fevers over 100.4°F, the accompanying symptoms can lead to low grade fevers under 100.4°F. The extra drool and inflammation make babies prone to dehydration, discomfort, and heat rashes that may slightly elevate temperature.
It’s normal for babies to run low fevers during teething, especially when molars are breaking through. But sustained temperatures above 102°F likely indicate illness and should be medically evaluated.
Watch for patterns over time. Try to keep your teething baby comfortable with cold teethers, Tylenol, extra fluids, and rest. Call your doctor if symptoms do not improve within 24 hours or additional signs of illness develop.
With attentive care and treatment, most teething fevers are not a major concern and will pass as the new teeth come in.