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What are the Side Effects of Teething?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee

The side effects of teething occur as a result of the teething process, which is how a baby's teeth emerge in the mouth. Teething symptoms can appear several days before the tooth erupts. Teeth can first begin to appear when a child is about four months old. Teething causes gum and tooth discomfort, and the side effects typically occur as a result of this discomfort. This can include a rash, a low-grade fever, biting, and drooling.

Teething is the process by which a baby's first teeth emerge beyond the gum line in the mouth. This can be an uncomfortable and painful process for most babies. Teeth begin to appear between the ages of four and ten months, with the average age of first tooth eruption about six months. Symptoms of teething can include biting and chewing, irritability, drooling, and rubbing or pulling at the gums and ears.

Teething baby.
Teething baby.

The side effects of teething in infants include swelling and inflammation at the site of tooth eruption. Gum inflammation in teething babies occurs due to the movement of teeth beneath the gums. Blisters may appear on the surface of the gums at the site where the tooth will erupt. Some teeth may cause more discomfort when they erupt; the side effects are typically worse when molars are teethed. That's because molar teeth have larger, flatter surface areas than incisors and bicuspids, and can't cut through the gum tissue as efficiently.

Special toys are helpful for babies who are going through the teething period.
Special toys are helpful for babies who are going through the teething period.

Babies are known for being fussy and cranky while teething. Fussiness and irritability symptoms usually come and go throughout the teething process. The baby may not be able to sleep through the night, refuse to eat, and develop a facial rash. Babies may place their hands in their mouths or bite their hands. When molars are erupting, teething babies often rub their cheeks or ears.

When teething, babies tend to drool.
When teething, babies tend to drool.

Teething can cause babies to develop a low-grade fever of no more than 100.4°F (38°C). Fevers higher than this are generally not a side effect of teething and should be considered a symptom of a more serious medical condition. Babies who exhibit additional physical symptoms, such as diarrhea, cough, runny nose, or a rash that extends beyond the face, are probably suffering from a more serious medical condition than teething. Serious medical conditions in infants are usually accompanied by persistent fussiness and irritability, rather than the intermittent mood changes that accompany teething.

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Discussion Comments


My baby has been vomiting and has the diarrhea but no fever and she has her two front bottom teeth coming through. Are the vomiting and diarrhea a symptom of her teething?


Baltic amber necklaces are great for naturally relieving teething pain. I was amazed at how well they work. My second daughter got four teeth in at a time, and never fussed at all during that time. The only way we know she is teething is she has drool soaked shirts during that time, then all of a sudden, she has four new teeth. You can also use clove oil on the side of the cheek, and it is much safer than things like Tylenol or Oragel.

Also, babies release histamine during teething, and this opens the blood brain barrier. So it is especially important to note to never vaccinate a teething baby.


I'm a big fan of these teething mittens found on etsy! My baby is too young too hold anything and this mitten secures with Velcro so no pulling if off!


Why are my baby's first two teeth yellow? I'm really concerned!


I have two precious babies, and they have both done everything entirely different. The way that they teethed did not disapoint.

I remember when my oldest, my daughter that is, was a little thing; she would cry and cry and cry and chew on her hands. This was from about six months or so. But the child didn’t actually get her first tooth until she was eight months old.

It took her forever to get that first one, and then they all came at once. She had a very hard time with them, including the diarrhea and fever that worries a mother so badly.

My son, on the other hand, started getting his teeth at about six months. He got one, and then got three more within a week or two. When he went for his check up his doctor said that he had textbook teething.

Of course, his jaw teeth hurt when they finally came in, but otherwise he just popped teeth out without as much as a peep.

Then again, he does take pain a whole lot better than my daughter does even now.


I remember being completely grossed out by my baby brother while he was teething. He drooled so much all over everything. He went into my room once when I was at school and drooled all over my stuffed animals. I had to wash them all by hand. It was so disgusting!

I think that contributed to my lack of a desire to have children. I don’t even want to babysit. I can’t stand to hold a baby, because I hate it when they drool on my clothes and hair. My friends think I’m cold-hearted because of it, but I say I’m just scarred by past experience.


I am nine years older than my baby sister, so I vividly remember her teething process. It was funny watching her freak out over it. Don’t get me wrong - I didn’t like seeing her cry, but some of the other things she did were hilarious.

When she first noticed that something was going on in her mouth, she put both hands in there, started tapping her gums with her fingers, and began yelling out, “Uh! Uh! Uh!” It’s like she was saying, “Hey!! Something is growing inside my face! Help me!”

She remained fascinated and disturbed by her teething. She seemed like she wanted to explore her gums more than she wanted to complain.


@Oceana - My baby’s pediatrician told me that the pain from teething does radiate through to the baby’s ears. When you think about it, the jaws are awfully close to the ears, and I have had toothaches so severe that the pain seemed to shoot up and over to them.

Babies are kind of uncoordinated in their movements anyway, so the ears might not even be his target. When a baby reaches for his ears, he may actually be reaching for the jaw, which is the source of the pain, and his hand could just be wandering around, trying to find the spot where the hurting is going on.


I watched my sister’s baby pull at her ears while teething. I think this is so strange that babies do that! Their ears should not be hurting because their teeth are cutting through!

As soon as she was done teething, she stopped messing with her ears. So, I know that it was related to that and not an ear infection or anything.

Does anyone know the medical reason why babies pull their ears during teething? I am just extremely curious and bothered by it.


My friend's baby girl is having the worst time with her teething. She goes to daycare and after one particular day at daycare my friend received this report:

"Your daughter bit another child, but not to worry the other child did not even have a mark. We did not have to scold her because as soon as she did it, she started crying and she told herself 'No bite!' We would suggest some teething materials however."

I will be giving my friend the tips from the article and these comments so hopefully my friend's baby girl does not continue on her biting rampage.


@MissDaphne - How does numbing gel interfere with breastfeeding? Would these natural remedies that some have mentioned (clove oil etc) or baby pain relievers also interfere in the same way?


@honeybees - I've seen several mothers use a natural alternative to commercial numbing gels. It's basically a mixture of clove and mint oils along with some glycerine to sweeten it. Clove has long been known to help with toothaches, so perhaps it's worth a shot.


@golf07 - Your idea of using frozen washcloths is quite a good one! I normally don't like to use too many medications, especially when a child is so young. My mother used to use glycerine, which she would rub onto my younger brother's gums. It helps to reduce some of the pain.


Nobody got much sleep around our house when our kids were teething. All three of my kids were fussy and ran a low grade fever. When I saw my first baby pull at her ears and have a runny nose, I thought that maybe she was getting an ear infection.

When I took her to the doctor, he said that she was just teething and to make sure her fever didn't get any higher. All three of my kids had similar symptoms when they were teething.

It was kind of frustrating because I wanted to make sure there was nothing more serious going on, but after the second one I recognized the symptoms and wasn't surprised when my third one reacted the same way.

When they were really miserable I would put a drop of numbing gel on the tooth that was trying to break through. This seemed to offer a little bit of relief for awhile, but never long enough.


I never tried any of the numbing gels on my babies when they were little, but used something that is easy and economical.

I would take a washcloth, get it wet and then wring out all of the excess water and put it in the freezer. I would usually use a baby washcloth so it wasn't as big and bulky as a regular sized one.

I kept several of these in the freezer so I always had one handy to use. Once they are frozen and solid, they would help comfort and soothe their tender mouth and they loved to chew on them.

I also know some moms who will dip the washcloth in some chamomile tea before freezing. My kids had good results with just a plain frozen washcloth.


The teething process can seem to take quite a long time when your baby is fussy and miserable. My son started teething right around 6 months, and it seemed like an eternity for him.

He was very fussy, did a lot of drooling and would pull at his ears frequently. The first teeth were not nearly as bad as it was when he was getting his molars.

I felt so bad for him and tried everything I could think of to make him more comfortable. It is hard to see your baby so miserable when you know there is not much you can do about it.

He did not like the teething rings, but would chew on just about anything else he could get in his mouth.


@MissDaphne - First, a little numbing gel won't be a problem. My wife breastfed our son and we used baby orajel without any difficulties. But it only works when the tooth is bulging through; you put a tiny bit on that very spot.

Rubbing their gum with your finger can help. When they're cutting molars, letting the chew on a frozen french fry is surprising effective. (I know, it sounds gross.)

But really, the best thing is baby pain reliever. We use baby Tylenol up to six months and then switch to ibuprofen because it lasts longer. It makes all the difference in the world! And our son, at least, really liked the taste of it, so he started to calm down right away, before it even started working!


What can you do about teething? I've tried one those frozen teething rings, but baby doesn't seem to like it. Poor thing can't get any sleep and just really seems to be suffering. I've heard the numbing gel is bad to use because it can interfere with breastfeeding. Any other suggestions?

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