I Think He’s Teething-His Tongue is Purple

5 Jan

Ok, so I’ve never heard that one…but I’ve heard just about everything else…Fever, congestion, diarrhea, fussiness, putting things in their mouth, not sleeping well, you name it and someone has attributed it to teething.

So what symptoms really do come up before babies cut their teeth? When can we expect teeth to erupt? What can we do for our child when they are teething?

The best study I have found about teeting was done in 2000 and included lots of kids and 475 tooth eruptions. Click here to see the study.

The symptoms that they found to be associated with fever were the following:

  • biting
  • drooling
  • gum-rubbing
  • sucking
  • irritability
  • wakefulness
  • ear-rubbing
  • facial rash
  • decreased appetite for solid foods
  • mild temperature elevation

The following symptoms were NOT associated with teething:

  • congestion
  • sleep disturbance
  • stool looseness or increased stool number
  • decreased appetite for liquids
  • cough
  • rashes other than facial rashes
  • fever over 102 degrees F
  • vomiting

I have seen some studies that will include congestion in the symptom list for teething. i think one of the main misconception is about fever. I commonly have parents ask if 102-103 temp could be caused by fever and the studies are pretty clear that if the fever is that high, it probably isn’t just teething. See my post on fever (FEVER! Should we go to the ER?) for more information about this.

So how do you treat the pain associated with teething?

There are lots of products available must of which are not helpful and can be potentially harmful.

This quotes comes from the healthychildren.org article on teething (click to see full article):

“To ease your baby’s discomfort, try gently rubbing or massaging the gums with one of your fingers. Teething rings are helpful, too, but they should be made of firm rubber. The teethers that you freeze tend to get too hard and can cause more harm than good.) Pain relievers and medications that you rub on the gums are not necessary or useful since they wash out of the baby’s mouth within minutes. Some medication you rub on your child’s gums can even be harmful if too much is used and the child swallows an excessive amount.”

Avoid products with benzocaine and lidocaine (oragel and other gels). These have been known to cause a problem in babies called methemoglobinemia where your child will turn BLUE. I mean smurf crazy blue and is obviously a medical emergency. Also, avoid products with belladonna (teething tabs) as this has known to be poisonous and doesn’t have studies proving that it decreases pain anyway.

If our children are particularly fussy from teething, we will Tylenol and if over 6 months old Motrin according to weight appropriate dosing sporadically for a day or 2 until symptoms subside.

The main thing is that you have to be flexible with your child and allow them a little extra grace for changes in sleep and feeding habits. Teething can be disruptive to schedules and the extra fussiness can make things stressful. Hang in there, this phase is temporary.


4 Responses to “I Think He’s Teething-His Tongue is Purple”

  1. Karen Howell January 5, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    You may research the use of amber necklaces for pain. They work and don’t require medicine!

    • jrsmith120880 January 6, 2013 at 1:55 am #

      I have seen these becoming more popular around. A local store (in Abilene) has picked them up and is selling them per parent’s request. When anything “new” comes out like this I know there won’t be any studies showing effectiveness yet so I basically have to consider safety. (I realize its not really new as they have been used for years and this is simply a resurgence). The sellers of the necklaces I have found state they can help with teething pain and also quote other benefits (immune function and anti-inflammatory properties included). The only mechanism I can find that makes sense to me as to how they might work is through a chemical released through the beads and absorbed through the skin as they are heated through being near the body. My question about that is that if it a chemical mechanism, skin absorption is know to be unpredictable whereby some people absorb high levels through the skin and some absorb very little to none when given a measured dose through a patch.

      The main concern I have is the potential strangulation risk of having any thing around your child’s neck. This is not a particular concern about these necklaces just a general concern about necklaces/jewelry in infants/toddlers. I also have some concern about choking risk associated with the small pieces on then. My understanding is that the strings are knotted in between each bead to prevent the whole necklace from breaking apart which seems better than them being separate. I suppose if someone is willing to take on the risks associated with them for the potential benefits, that is their choice.

  2. lauren January 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    What is the difference between wakefulness and sleep disturbance?

    • jrsmith120880 January 6, 2013 at 1:59 am #

      I can’t find the full text of the original study which would define exactly what they meant by each term. I was briefly tempted to delete one or the other so it didn’t seem contradictory but wanted to be true to what the study had initially reported.

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