What does this have to do with teething?
Your baby has turned blue while teething.
Well, it is not from teething but it could be from the treatment you are using for it.
Fever, congestion, diarrhea, fussiness, putting things in their mouth, not sleeping well, you name it and someone has attributed it to teething.
So how do you treat the pain associated with teething?
There are lots of products available most of which are not helpful and can be potentially harmful.
Avoid products with benzocaine and lidocaine (oragel and other gels). These have been known to cause a problem in babies called methemoglobinemia where your child will turn BLUE. I mean smurf crazy blue and is obviously a medical emergency. Also, avoid products with belladonna (teething tabs) as this has known to be poisonous and doesn’t have studies proving that it decreases pain anyway.
“To ease your baby’s discomfort, try gently rubbing or massaging the gums with one of your fingers. Teething rings are helpful, too, but they should be made of firm rubber. The teethers that you freeze tend to get too hard and can cause more harm than good.) Pain relievers and medications that you rub on the gums are not necessary or useful since they wash out of the baby’s mouth within minutes. Some medication you rub on your child’s gums can even be harmful if too much is used and the child swallows an excessive amount.”
So what symptoms really do come up before babies cut their teeth? When can we expect teeth to erupt? What can we do for our children when they are teething?
The best study I have found about teething was done in 2000 and included lots of kids and 475 tooth eruptions. Click here to see the study.
The symptoms that they found to be associated with teething were the following:
- Facial rash
- Decreased appetite for solid foods
- Mild temperature elevation
The following symptoms were NOT associated with teething:
- sleep disturbance
- stool looseness or increased stool number
- Decreased appetite for liquids
- Rashes other than facial rashes
- Fever over 102 degrees F
I have seen some studies that will include congestion in the symptom list for teething. I think one of the main misconceptions is about fever. I commonly have parents ask if 102-103 temp could be caused by teething and the studies are pretty clear that if the fever is that high, it probably isn’t just teething.
If our children are particularly fussy from teething, we will occasionally use Tylenol® and if more than 6 months old Motrin® according to weight appropriate dosing sporadically for a day or 2 until symptoms subside.
The main thing is that you have to be flexible with your child and allow them a little extra grace for changes in sleep and feeding habits. Teething is normal and should be consider a normal developmental stage. It can be disruptive to schedules and the extra fussiness can make things stressful. Hang in there, this phase is temporary.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.