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Teething Symptoms and Signs

If your baby is teething, symptoms and signs may include excessive drooling, irritability, hand biting, and hardening of the lower gum line. Keep in mind that not every child will experience these indications. Signs of teething are more frequent from four days before the tooth comes in until three days after the tooth has emerged.

Signs and Symptoms of Teething in Babies: What to Look For

When an infant begins teething, parents need to rely on signs and symptoms that do not include actually seeing the first pearly whites pushing through.
The following symptoms are better described as signs or indicators rather than symptoms because symptoms indicate diseases and conditions. Teething is perfectly normal and healthy!
The possible signs of teething include:
  • Excessive drooling
  • Irritability/crankiness
  • Hand biting (your little one may find comfort in shoving their entire fist in their mouth, not just a thumb)
  • Biting or chewing on anything
  • Night wakening
  • Ear pulling;
  • Gum rubbing;
  • Hardening of the lower gum line
  • Facial rash (drool rash)
  • Low-grade fever (less than 100.4ºF or 38ºC) -- high fever is not a symptom of teething
  • Sensitive and painful gums
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Diaper rash*
  • Infant diarrhea*.
(*In an intriguing recent study, 550 medical professionals, including pediatricians, general practitioners, pharmacists, nurses, and dentists, were asked to list the symptoms they associated with teething. Interestingly, only the nurses acknowledged diaper rash and/or diarrhea as a possible sign.)
This list of possible signs and symptoms is long, and many of these items are disputed by various arms of the healthcare community. This is because the research regarding this topic is inconclusive.
In one study, while there were many different symptoms seen with children who were teething, no symptom occurred in more than 35 percent of the teething infants, and no symptom was more than 20 percent more common in teething infants than in non-teething infants.
While this list is often disputed and debated, we have included all those signs that might help a parent identify the source of their baby's troubles. Keep in mind that many of these symptoms are shared with other conditions (such as fever that is caused by an infection), so you should not assume that a particular symptom is due to teething.
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