Q: How do I know if my baby's fever is related to her teething or if it's something else that could require medical treatment?
A: Infants usually start teething between 4 and 7 months and show some classic signs: crankiness, gum irritation, drooling and less interest in feeding. These signs tend to peak during the emergence of a child's primary incisors or front teeth. Data from 10 major studies on teething indicated that a slight rise in body temperature was another common sign but most often was not high enough to be considered a fever.
Babies usually gnaw and chew on toys and pacifiers while they're teething. That behavior isn't always indicative of pain but is an urge to chew, so don't misinterpret the chewing behavior for pain and reach for medications. Even if your baby feels a little warm (below 100.4 degrees F) you don't have to automatically reach for the acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Any temperature over 100.4 degrees F is a sign that your child is probably sick, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms of illness. In such a situation it's a good idea to head to your pediatrician to have your baby examined. Better safe than sorry.
— Dr. Tonia Cox, CHI Memorial Pediatric Diagnostic Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society