Teething Doesn't Really Cause High-Grade Fever, New Study Reveals

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Feb 20, 2016 07:58 AM EST

High-grade fevers as a sign of teething is one of the widely held old wives' tales, giving a lot of parents the notion that it has, in fact, some scientific backing.

But, according to new findings from the Journal of Pediatrics, high-grade fevers and teething have no established causal relationship. And, such fevers could actually be a warning sign for other health conditions.

"If a child has a really high fever, or is in significant discomfort, or won't eat or drink anything for days, that's a red flag for concern," said Dr. Paul Casamassimo, director of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's Pediatric Oral Health and Research and Policy Center.

The researchers said that the most common symptoms of teething include swollen gums, drooling and crankiness. And while it could take longer in some cases, the signs and symptoms of teething should only last between three to five days, on average.

Dr. Casamassimo recommends a cold rag or a teething toy to help ease babies' discomfort. He also cited infant pain relievers as another option, but was quick to add that parents should exercise more caution when using them. The regular intake of these pain relievers could cause tooth decay or even liver disease in children.

He also advised against topical anesthetics that may contain benzocaine, which could result in a rare, but serious, and sometimes fatal condition called methemoglobinemia.

"By and large, symptoms are not a chronic thing. They come and go, and the job of the parent is to comfort the child, and keep their finger on the pulse of their child. Is the child eating? Staying hydrated?" Casamassimo also added.

He said that the signs of teething vary among children. Parents must be aware of it and should find ways to alleviate the discomfort brought about by the symptoms. And, if things take a turn for the worse, parents should call their doctor.

According to the Mayo Clinic, for infants between the ages 6 to 24 months, parents should seek medical help when experiencing unexplained fever of a temperature higher than 102 F (38.9 C) that lasts longer than one day but who shows no other symptoms.

Infants with a fever who also show other signs and symptoms, such as a cold, cough or diarrhea, should also be a concern for parents. In this case, they should call the doctor sooner, especially when the conditions are severe.

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