Teething Truths and Myths
By Maureen Connolly
Got a fussy baby on your hands? Can't sleep, doesn't want to eat, is running a low-grade fever -- must be teething, right? Maybe not.
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry spokesperson Michael J. Hanna, D.M.D., says that several of the symptoms associated with teething simply aren't caused by cutting a tooth. Truth or Myth?:
"Viral and bacterial infections cause fever, not teething." However, a temperature might be due to broken gums that are exposed to bacteria or from the eruption of cysts on the gums, which can occur from teething. Dr. Hanna says to keep in mind that your infant is also putting a lot more things in his mouth right around this time and has probably (or will soon) begin crawling. Both of these things expose him to more fever-causing viruses and bacteria unrelated to teething.
- Ear Pain
Because the ear drum and teeth share a common nerve center, teething can sometimes be experienced as referred ear pain. A child tugging at her ear might also have an ear infection which is why it's important to find out what other symptoms are associated with ear infections so you can rule one out.
- Excess Drooling
According to Dr. Hanna, the body doesn't produce excess saliva while a child is teething. But because babies tend to want to chew on hard objects or their hand to help equalize some of the pressure and tenderness they're feeling, the mouth is open more, causing secretions to seep out instead of swallowed.
- Runny Nose
Not true, since teething doesn't produce more secretions. A runny nose is likely due to an allergy or cold.
- Diaper Rash
It's been said that the saliva becomes more acidic to help the tooth cut through the gum, but Dr. Hanna says this isn't the case. Instead, a perineal rash could be due to a viral or bacterial intestinal infection, or even from eating more carbs, which are more acidic.
- Lack of Appetite
When your gums are tender and sore, it doesn't feel so good to munch on food or suck on a nipple.