Teething

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View Parent's Guide to Crying and Colic

What are the signs and symptoms of teething?

Teething is generally associated with gum and jaw discomfort as the infant's tooth prepares to erupt through the gum surface. As the tooth moves beneath the surface of the gum tissue, the area may appear slightly red or swollen. Sometimes a fluid-filled area similar to a "blood blister" may be seen over the erupting tooth. Some teeth may be more sensitive than others when they erupt. The larger molars may cause more discomfort due to their larger surface area that can't "slice" through the gum tissue as an erupting incisor is capable of doing. With the exception of the eruption of the third molars (wisdom teeth), eruption of permanent teeth rarely cause the discomfort associated with eruption of "baby" (primary or deciduous) teeth.

Teething may cause the following symptoms:

  • Increased drooling
  • Restless or decreased sleeping due to gum discomfort
  • Refusal of food due to soreness of the gum region
  • Fussiness that comes and goes
  • Bringing hands to the mouth
  • Mild rash around the mouth due to skin irritation secondary to excessive drooling
  • Rubbing the cheek or ear region as a consequence of referred pain during the eruption of the molars

Importantly, teething is not associated with the following symptoms:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2016
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