If your baby is shoving fists—or anything else—in his mouth, chances are you have a teether, says Dr. Ken Haller, MD, pediatrician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center and assistant professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University. Other telltale signs of teething include fussiness, crying, and needing something, anything, to chew on, adds Dr. Haller.
Teething is a trying time for parent and child alike. Take a look at these most-asked teething questions and find helpful answers from pediatricians and pediatric dentists.
1. What can you expect?
"Teething is a normal process of new teeth pushing through the gums—and this process takes time. While a baby is teething you may notice increased saliva, drooling, and a desire to chew, mild gum pain, slightly swollen gums over the cutting tooth, changes in appetite, and low-grade fever less than 100," says Dr. Vivian Lennon, medical director of Primary Care at the Children's Hospital in Atlanta.
2. Why do kids drool when they are teething?
"The saliva helps cool off inflamed and tender gums," explains Dr. Haller.
3. Are high fevers and runny noses related to teething?
"No. The temperature elevation during teething is very mild and rarely exceeds 100.4. The most common symptom will be increased drooling," says Dr. Lennon.
4. Is diarrhea a symptom of teething?
"An association between teething and diarrhea has never been scientifically proven—many unrelated illnesses are blamed on teething," points out Dr. Lennon. "If your child is particularly miserable with excessive crying or fever greater than 100.4, they may not be teething and you should contact your pediatrician."
5. Is refusing solids common during teething?
The answer is yes, according to Dr. Lennon. "A child's gums will be sore for several days until the tooth breaks through the gum. They may show some decrease in appetite."