Can teething really make your baby ill?

Can teething really make your baby ill?

All babies teethe. Though this is a completely normal physiological event, it causes some discomfort for babies and is a huge stressor for moms. Started and run by Dr. Londiwe Sibisi-Maboye, Kids Dental Home is a private dental practice, based in Pretoria, with special focus on paediatric dental and oral health care, which includes infants, toddlers, and adolescents as well as special needs patients. They have teamed up with Parentwood to provide information and education to our clients on kids dental care from the very start. We decided to knock on their doors for some answers and tips to help moms negotiate this important life event.

Firstly, is it true that babies get ill from teething?

This is a topic on which moms will hear contradicting advice. From a purely medical viewpoint there is not enough evidence to conclusively link especially fever to teething. But many mothers will tell you that their baby had a fever together with pain and redness in the gums, itching gums and tummy upsets. Baby may also be grumpy and fussy.

It is important to remember that there are many other causes for fever. So if baby has other worrying symptoms like coughing or excessive crying, if baby seems to get sicker, or if a fever goes above 38,5°C you should see a doctor.

How do you know grumpiness are caused by teething?

There are many reasons why babies are fussy and irritable. Perhaps baby is tired, did not sleep well, or is feeling discomfort somewhere else in the body. If teething is responsible, baby will put anything available in his mouth and may try to rub his gums. He may also drool more than usual. And then he can of course have some of the other symptoms mentioned above.

Do note that simply putting his hands in his mouth do not mean that baby is necessarily teething, as this is a normal developmental sign starting from about 10 weeks onwards.

How can I make baby more comfortable during teething?

  • You can use teething powders and ointments as it numbs the gums (At Parentwood we would usually suggest first trying a natural product like Pure Beginnings Teething Gel, or Cerene Homeopathic teething powder)
  • Use a teething ring that you can cool down in the fridge. Regularly inspect your ring for any holes, and make sure baby doesn’t bite right through it (if he already has other teeth)
  • If baby has a fever or really seem to be in pain you can give Paracetamol syrup
  • Note: At Parentwood we also recommend homeopathic remedies containing Chamomilla, for example Viburcol suppositories.

How about nappy rashes during teething?

As a mom one feels terrible if your baby has a nappy rash. It is reckoned that babies’ stools are more acidic when they are teething, so loose stools and burning bums are common. Know that you often cannot completely prevent it, so don’t feel too horrible. This too shall pass. These tips can help you cope with the problem.

  • Use a bum cream, and then sprinkle some Maizena over the area before putting the nappy on again
  • You may have to experience a bit with bum creams to find one that works
  • You can dab Rooibos tea onto the area when changing the nappy, or add rooibos tea to baby’s bath water
  • Rinse baby’s bum with lukewarm water instead of using a wet wipe when changing the nappy

For more assistance, do contact us on or call 012 329 1301 to get in contact with one of our clinic sisters. For dental care customized to suit children’s needs, contact Kids Dental Home on 012 548 1137.