There has been much debate in recent years among healthcare professionals about just how painful teething is for babies. Some say that our secondary teeth don’t cause pain as they emerge so why should we assume our milk teeth do? While others (many parents included) will contest that there must be some degree of discomfort to cause such distress, irritability and local inflammation in the gum.

What most agree on though is that the following symptoms should not simply be brushed aside as indicators of teething:

  • diarrhoea
  • temperature or fever (above 390c)
  • vomiting
  • coughing
  • runny nose
  • rash on the body
  • eczema
  • colic
  • convulsions
  • constipation
  • smelly urine

As a natural development process, teething should not make infants physically ill in this way. These are more likely to be symptoms of a bacterial or viral infection, which may need medical attention. Do contact your doctor if you have any concerns.

However, teething babies do seem to display some localised symptoms around the mouth area such as dribbling, an urge to bite or chew, flushed cheeks and red, inflamed gums. How much discomfort these symptoms cause may vary between individuals. As they can’t tell us, we tend to take these visual signs, along with any irritability or restlessness, as an indicator that something is going on.

The good news for parents who believe that teeth cutting through the gum is actually causing the distress, is that there are effective teething gels on the market (Always read the label).

The important thing to remember is that if you have any concerns about whether your baby’s symptoms or discomfort is attributable to teething or some other illness, it is always best to seek medical advice.